This lawmaker says Arizona's laws are making it needlessly difficult for her to get an abortion

By Wayne Schutsky
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 - 7:05am
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 - 2:43pm

Woman with hair pulled back in clips
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0
Arizona state Sen. Eva Burch.

A state lawmaker told her colleagues on the floor of the Arizona Senate that she plans to get an abortion and decried the state’s laws that restrict access to the procedure. 

Sen. Eva Burch (D-Mesa) shared that she has suffered miscarriages in the past and made the difficult decision to get an abortion after she found out her current pregnancy is not viable.

“I don’t think people should have to justify their abortions, but I’m choosing to talk about why I made this decision, because I want us to be able to have meaningful conversations about the reality of how the work that we do in this body impacts people in the real world,” Burch said. 

It’s not the first time she has spoken publicly about the topic. Last year, she talked about the heart-wrenching decision to terminate another wanted pregnancy after a doctor informed her that it would end in a miscarriage.

Burch said current Arizona laws governing abortion made the process even more difficult than it had to be. 

Arizona currently has two conflicting abortion bans on the books: a near-complete ban that dates back to the 1860s, and a 15-week ban passed by Republican legislators in 2022. A state appeals court panel ruled the 15-week ban is the law of the land in Arizona, but that case is now pending before the state Supreme Court

Under current law, doctors can perform an abortion after 15 weeks in a medical emergency, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s office

But even those protections fall short, Burch said. 

She said the last time she made the decision to seek an abortion due to a non-viable pregnancy, she began to miscarry the night before the scheduled abortion but was unable to obtain emergency abortion procedures in a hospital.

“I had been bleeding and passing huge clots for hours, but I wasn't bleeding out, and I was still pregnant,” Burch said. “So I was offered medication to make me start bleeding again and told that I could have a procedure when I had bled enough.”

She did receive abortion services the next day — two weeks before clinics in Arizona began to shut down following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade. 

Even after some clinics in Arizona reopened under the 15-week ban, Burch said hurdles and unnecessarily invasive steps still exist under state law. For example, the law required her to receive an additional ultrasound by her abortion provider even though her doctor had already administered “numerous ultrasounds and blood draws” to determine her pregnancy was not progressing.

Burch, a nurse, said the law also required her provider to give her a list of what she deemed “absolute disinformation” and other information that did not apply to her situation, including telling her that adoption is an alternative to abortion.

“It's not the job of the medical provider to try to talk a patient out of a decision that they feel comfortable with,” Burch said. “Providers want patients to be informed, but not coerced.” 

Burch said lawmakers should not be involved in decisions about abortion — and she believes Arizona voters agree with her. A poll of Arizona voters conducted in 2022 months after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision found that around 90% of voters believed abortion should be legal “in some way, shape or form.”

Burch supports the campaign to put abortion rights on Arizona ballots in November. If passed by voters, it will guarantee the right to an abortion in the Arizona Constitution.

Politics Abortion Health + Medicine