Arizona State Senator Shares Own Emotional Abortion Story in Floor Speech

Arizona State Legislature
Arizona State Legislature

Part of Eva Burch’s job is to make policy decisions as an elected senator in the Arizona State Legislature. But earlier this month, she found herself on the receiving end of her colleagues’ strict laws on abortion.

Burch rose at the end of a floor session on Monday to share her personal experience with an unwanted pregnancy and call for better legislation in Arizona, where abortion is outlawed after 15 weeks.

The senator recently learned that she was pregnant, but that there was no chance for her to carry the pregnancy to term. Because of Arizona’s restrictive health care laws, Burch experienced firsthand the reproductive realities that the Legislature had created.

“My experiences—both as a provider and as a patient—have led me to believe that this Legislature has failed the people of Arizona,” Burch, who is a nurse practitioner by training, said on the floor.

“Pregnancy is not a health-neutral condition,” she told the chamber. “We have to be honest about the balance of risk and reward, and why abortion can often be the right health care choice.”

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Burch went on to describe the unnecessary procedures she was forced to undergo, including a trans-vaginal ultrasound neither she nor her doctor wanted, and a round of what she described as “absolute disinformation” about other options.

“I was told that there were alternatives to abortion, parenting or adoption among them—as though delivering a healthy baby were an option for me. It is not,” Burch said.

She added that Arizona’s strict abortion laws made it difficult for doctors and medical providers to make complex decisions with patients who needed them.

“All that the Legislature has done is to nurture distrust and confusion in the relationship between patients and providers and people who are vulnerable enough,” she said on the floor.

Burch’s career as a health care provider has helped her understand just how delicate those cases can be.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, she mentioned her current work in the opioid use disorder space, which has “its own set of complexities” when patients are pregnant.

“I see so many of the hardships and of the really difficult decision-making processes that people have to go through, and I want them to be supported in their decision making,” she said. “I want us operating in the reality of the situations people are experiencing.”

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On the floor, the senator said that because of her privileges—a supportive family, a stable job, the ability to pay for doctor’s visits and take time away from work if needed—she could navigate, however painfully, the restrictive and confusing health care system as she sought to terminate her pregnancy. But many other women, including survivors of sexual violence, don’t have those same privileges—and to have no further say in their pregnancies could seriously traumatize them.

“Arizonans deserve freedom and liberty to make those decisions for themselves,” she said. “I will never try to force anyone to have an abortion; nobody should ever try to prevent me from having mine.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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