Arizona lawmaker announces plan to have abortion for ‘not viable’ pregnancy on state Senate floor

An Arizona lawmaker made headlines when she announced her plans to get an abortion on the state Senate floor - in an effort to shed light on the state’s restrictive abortion laws.

When Democratic state senator Eva Burch took to the Senate floor on Monday 18 March, she revealed to her fellow lawmakers that she was seeking an abortion after learning that her pregnancy is not viable.

Burch explained that she recently learned she was pregnant “against all odds” and detailed her family’s “rough journey” with fertility. The District 9 representative, who is also a registered nurse, experienced a miscarriage “more than 13 years ago” and terminated a nonviable pregnancy two years ago, while she was campaigning for her Senate seat.

“After numerous ultrasounds and blood draws, we have determined that my pregnancy is once again not progressing and is not viable, and once again I have scheduled an appointment to terminate my pregnancy,” Burch said.

While the Arizona state senator maintained she doesn’t believe people “should have to justify” their reasons for getting an abortion, Burch decided to reveal her decision in order to have “meaningful conversations” about reproductive rights.

The mother of two emphasised that undergoing an abortion would be the “safest and most appropriate” treatment for her unviable pregnancy. However, she detailed the many obstacles she’s been facing in the weeks since learning she was pregnant, noting that Arizona’s laws have “interfered” with her decision to get an abortion.

Burch said she was “forced” by state law to have an “invasive” transvaginal ultrasound at the abortion clinic, and was read “factually false” information about alternatives to abortion that were required by law. Burch was then required to wait another 24 hours after her appointment to have the abortion procedure - a mandated state requirement.

“From where I sat, the only reason I had to hear those things was in a cruel and really uninformed attempt by outside forces to shame and coerce and frighten me into making a different decision other than the one I knew was right for me,” Burch said. “There’s no one-size fits all script for people seeking abortion care and the legislature doesn’t have any right to assign one.”

She stressed that Arizona’s abortion laws have “nurtured distrust and confusion” in relationships between patients and providers, and called on the Arizona legislature to allow constituents to make their own decisions about their reproductive care.

“I will never try to force someone to have an abortion. Nobody should ever try to prevent me from having mine,” Burch added.

In June 2022, the US Supreme Court struck down a 50-year precedent set by Roe v Wade when it issued a ruling in the 2018 case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In turn, the Supreme Court decided that there is no constitutional right to abortion despite decades of federal protections for abortion access since 1973.

Since then, nearly two dozen states in the US have issued total bans on abortion or restricted access to abortion services. The Abortion Fund of Arizona states that abortion is legal in the state when provided by a licensed physician, but with several restrictions.

All abortion care, including the delivery of medical abortion pills, can only be administered by a medical doctor. Doctors can provide abortion care only up to 15 weeks of pregnancy, forcing patients to travel out of Arizona for abortion services past 15 weeks.