Back in April, Arizona's Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to prohibit abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy. That was scary enough, but it got even scarier when we realized the bill included a new definition for when pregnancy begins. Writes John Celock:
A sentence in the bill defines gestational age as "calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman," which would move the beginning of a pregnancy up two weeks prior to conception.
If that description of the "Women's Health and Safety Act," which defines you as pregnant two weeks before you get pregnant, didn't freak you out four months ago, maybe this news will: On Thursday, Arizona Governor (and on-the-record Douchebag) Jan Brewer signed the bill. Stay douche-y, Brewer!
You look pregnant to me.
Since medical science can only predict gestational age to within a 10-14 day period, the bill ridiculously employs that same logic in reverse. Since you (probably) aren't pregnant while menstruating, the bill rolls the dice and figures you got knocked up sometime around the two-week post-period mark. In order to further restrict abortion access—the aim of this bill—Arizona legislators are playing fast and loose with the definitions of "pregnant." What this means for menstruating Arizonans is that you might be technically, legally pregnant even though you are not actually pregnant. Congratulations, it's a nonsensical piece of legislation!
"This is the most draconian right-wing legislature I've ever seen, and they [the bill's authors] are hand-in-hand with the governor who is in the same camp," said former Planned Parenthood national president and part-time Arizonan Gloria Feldt. Whether you live in Arizona or not (if you do, Jan Brewer thinks you might be pregnant right now), you have to admit this logic is messed up. The GOP's War on Women has been steadily creeping across the country like the worst case of crabs, but this bill makes AZ the most restrictive state in this regard, edging out the seven other states that have similar laws. Because why just target actually pregnant people's right to choose when you can just redefine the term "pregnant" and apply it to everyone who menstruates, thus casting an even wider anti-choice net?! Dystopian lit has nothing on the real world right now, folks.
State Rep. Kimberly Yee, the bill's sponsor, said she acted with her constituents in mind, adding that many of them feel it "doesn't go far enough." (Question to those people: HOW MUCH FURTHER COULD THIS POSSIBLY GO?) Women working together in government to... abolish women's reproductive rights. Yeah.
As Amelia McDonald-Parry points out, this bill doesn't just present ludicrous problems for pre-pregnant people:
In addition to completely screwing women who want to have abortions by further limiting the window in which they can legally have them, this law presents a huge problem for women who would continue their pregnancies to term — provided the fetus is healthy. According to the Tuscon Citizen, "During the hearings on the bill, doctors said many women don't discover their fetus has a severe or life-threatening problem until an ultrasound at about the 20th week. The doctors — and several women who had faced this issue — testified that this law would arbitrarily cut off the right for these women to have an abortion."
So pregnant people with life-threatening medical reasons for abortion (the only reasons most anti-choicers are willing to accept) are screwed over by this bill too.
This bill defies logic and common sense, regardless of your politics. That Jan Brewer signed it last week just proves what we already knew: She's the worst. And now she thinks you're pregnant.