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On the eve of Roe's 50th anniversary, Planned Parenthood advocates call for action from AZ

Published: Friday, January 20, 2023 - 5:33pm
Updated: Friday, January 20, 2023 - 5:52pm

Planned Parenthood of Arizona is asking Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs to strengthen abortion access and protections in the state. 

The news comes within days of the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which enshrined into law the the federal right to have an abortion. 

But those protections were upended when the high court struck down the Roe ruling last summer.

Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, joined other advocates for a press call Friday.

"Today is a reminder that Roe was groundbreaking, but it was also always the floor, and never the ceiling. And now we must reimagine what’s possible for our communities," she said. 

Fonteno and other advocates said Hobbs should safeguard reproductive rights through executive actions, including creating a multilingual website where Arizonans can access know-your-rights materials for abortions, establishing legal protections for people getting abortions and those providing them, and requiring state entities and contractors to provide accommodations for pregnant people.

They also called on the governor to cut off state-funding for so-called pregnancy crisis centers — which are facilities that seek to dissuade women from going through with abortions.

Fonteno said those facilities are "fake women's health centers" that mislead women and don't have the proper training to give medical advice.

"What we know to be true is that under previous administrations for anti-abortion politicians who were in control and held the purse strings, that these organizations were getting funding in the millions," she said. "What we want going forward is for funding to be really supportive of comprehensive, evidence-based, nonjudgemental healthcare...and would help people truly be able to be empowered to make their own decisions about if and when they want to expand their families."

Hobbs' office did not immediately respond to questions about how much Arizona funding currently goes toward crisis centers and how her administration would handle that funding. But in a summary of the budget proposal released last week, the governor proposes taking the $200,000 in state funds currently going toward crisis centers and redirecting them to the "the Department of Health Services’ operating budget for pregnancy services "that are inclusive of all options and support personal choice." 

Dr. Jill Gibson, medical director for  Planned Parenthood of Arizona, told reporters the federal ruling triggered a wave uncertainty in states like Arizona, where new abortion bans and restrictions took hold.

"I’ve helped victims of sexual assault and incest who are further along in their pregnancies get to states where there is not a 15-week abortion ban…one of them suicidal at the prospect of having to continue her pregnancy," she said. 

In December, an Arizona court ruled doctors could not be prosecuted under an 1860s law that bans almost all abortions and criminalizes physicians who perform them. An Arizona law enacted last March bans all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in medical emergencies.

Gibson said the months-long legal battle over those two laws has forced Planned Parenthood to halt abortion services several times since last year. Though services have restarted, the wait to get an abortion through the organization is now on a few-week backlog. 

Fronteras Abortion