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Arizona Republicans say no to a woman's right to choose

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- House and Senate Republicans used their rules Wednesday to block a vote -- or even a debate -- on a proposal to enshrine the right to contraceptives in Arizona law.
Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton complained that her HB 2678 never was given a hearing. It would create a law saying that individuals have the right to obtain "any drug, device or biological product intended for use in the prevention of pregnancy.''
And the measure lists various items that would be protected, ranging from oral contraceptives to mechanical devices.
But Stahl Hamilton could not get Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Goodyear, who chairs the House Committee on Health and Human Services to give it a hearing. And House rules say bills can't get to the floor without committee action
So the Tucson Democrat made a motion Wednesday to create a temporary rule to allow her to bring her measure directly to the floor and give it an up-or-down vote. She said this is a "special instance'' that requires special treatment.
"Why I think it's a good idea is that this bill is one of the ways in which our voices are heard,'' Stahl Hamilton said, surrounded on the floor by other Democratic women in the House.
"And our people are representative,'' she said. "And right now, the topic of this bill is so important that I believe it deserves a hearing.''
What it also is, Stahl Hamilton said, is relevant.
That's because when the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade and the conclusion there is a constitutional right to abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas said colleagues should also revisit other rulings about constitutional rights. And that includes a case known as Griswold which said the use of contraceptives falls within the "zone of privacy'' protected by the Bill of Rights.
Putting a right to contraceptives into Arizona law would make any decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Griswold legally irrelevant in the state.
"It is a topic that deserves robust conversation,'' she said. "And it is a topic that most of the people in Arizona support.''
But House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci said the merits of the legislation are irrelevant.
"There's a process in this House,'' said the Lake Havasu City Republican.
"And there's a way for bills to go through in this House,'' he said. "And this is not how it's done.''
The result was a party-line vote to reject Stahl Hamilton's bid to suspend the rules.
In the Senate, Sen. Priya Sundareshan, D-Tucson, could not get Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, to schedule a hearing on her identically worded SB 1362 in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. And her attempt to force a full Senate vote on the issue fared no better.
"Access to reproductive health care is a fundamental right that should not be questioned or changed by government,'' said Sen. Christine Marsh, D-Phoenix.
Foes of the legislation to provide a right to contraception have argued the measure is unnecessary, pointing out no bills have been introduced this year to curb access. But Marsh pointed out that isn't keeping Republicans from advancing their own proposals for problems that don't exist.
Consider, she said SB 1010. It would make it illegal for the state to track anyone's vehicle mileage. And there is an identical GOP proposal to put that to voters.
Not a single Republican spoke against Sundareshan's measure to bring the issue to the floor where it could be debated. But it failed anyway on a party-line vote.
The votes drew criticism from Gov. Katie Hobbs who is in support of such a law.
"The majority just showed they are out of touch with Arizonans,'' said press aide Christian Slater. And he said it's not just about contraception.
She said Republicans are supporting returning Arizona's abortion laws to the way they were in territorial days, when the procedure was illegal except to save the life of the mother. Arguments to do just that are pending before the Arizona Supreme Court.
And Slater said some Republicans have introduced legislation he said could undermine the rights of individuals to have in-vitro fertilization procedures by trying to put provisions into law that could be interpreted as saying that a fetus has the same legal rights as anyone else.
That includes a proposal to extend the current tax credit for children to the time that a woman is pregnant and another to say that a pregnant woman could drive in the carpool lane which requires there be at least two people in a vehicle.
On X or Threads: @azcapmedia