GOP legislators reject equal rights for women, because abortion (Updated)

This week Arizona’s GOP legislators reaffirmed, once again, that they believe women are second-class citizens who do not enjoy the full panoply of rights that white men do (they’re not convinced that men who are minorities do either), because abortion.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley
Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley proposes the Equal Rights Amendment.

On Tuesday, Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (D-Tucson), for the second year in a row, attempted to use a procedural maneuver to bring up a bill for debate on approving the Equal Rights Amendment. And for the second year in a row, white men moved to adjourn the House rather than debate the bill and take a vote.

The Republic reports, On Equal Pay Day, Arizona Republicans block vote on Equal Rights Amendment:

Democrats in the Arizona Legislature fell short Tuesday in their attempt to force a vote on ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

For the second consecutive year, they failed to persuade Republicans to allow debate on the ERA — a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that broadly guarantees equal rights between men and women.

State Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, tried to use a procedural move to bring an ERA resolution to a vote in the House of Representatives, but the House adjourned before that could happen.

Hannley said she chose Tuesday to push the issue because it marks Equal Pay Day, the day on the calendar when the average American woman’s earnings catch up to what a male peer earned in 2017.

Nationally, women earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. In Arizona, women earn about 82 cents for every dollar.

‘No time limit on equality’

“Arizona women want equal pay for equal work,” Hannley told fellow lawmakers. “Let’s make history. There is no time limit on equality.”

But Majority Leader John Allen, R-Scottsdale, intervened to prevent a vote on Powers Hannley’s motion. His motion to recess the chamber for the day passed 32-25, along party lines.

Absent from Tuesday’s vote were two female Republican lawmakers who voted for the ERA in 2017: Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, of Scottsdale, and Rep. Heather Carter, of Cave Creek. Both sponsored a bill on ERA ratification this year, which also failed.

So even Republican women who sponsored their own ERA bill – was it just a feint? – failed to even show up to lead on their bill.

Neither [ERA bill] received a hearing in the Judiciary Committee because Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who chairs the committee, wouldn’t allow it.

Farnsworth delivered the GOP’s last rebuttal, saying federal law already prohibits gender discrimination. He said the ERA could have unintended consequences and be used to remove abortion restrictions.

And there it is, the real reason the GOP opposes equal rights for women in the Constitution. If women had equal rights guaranteed under the Constitution, the level of  judicial review of legislative actions would be “strict scrutiny,” there would have to be a compelling state interest to treat women differently from men under the law. Since women are not guaranteed equal status under the Constitution, the level of  judicial review of legislative actions is only “rational basis,” not even “heightened scrutiny” in most cases of reproductive health care.

You should take note of the fact that the federal courts are currently being packed with Scalia-clone conservative justices who view him as a demigod and his pronouncements as divinely inspired. What did the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia have to say on this subject?

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia: Women Don’t Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination:

In a newly published interview [2011] in the legal magazine California Lawyer, Scalia said that while the Constitution does not disallow the passage of legislation outlawing such discrimination, it doesn’t itself outlaw that behavior:

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, said “In these comments, Justice Scalia says if Congress wants to protect laws that prohibit sex discrimination, that’s up to them,” she said. “But what if they want to pass laws that discriminate? Then he says that there’s nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them.”

Because women do not enjoy equal rights under the constitution, according to conservative orthodoxy, we get this kind of assault on a woman’s right to privacy in making health care decisions for herself, something no man is subject to, from the anti-abortion crusaders at the Center for Arizona Policy and the forced birthers in the Arizona legislature. House approves abortion questionnaire bill:

Saying they’re protecting women’s health, the state House voted Monday along party lines to require hospitals and clinics to ask patients the reason they are seeking an abortion.

The questions in SB 1394, approved on a 35-22 margin, are not quite as intrusive as had originally been proposed by Cathi Herrod and her anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy. Among the reasons on the checklist she wanted women to answer — and what she got the Senate to approve — was whether the abortion was for economic reasons, a desire not to have children at this time, fetal anomalies and “relationship issues” including extramarital affairs.

But the House voted to replace those with questions of whether the abortion is elective, due to maternal or fetal health, and whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, whether the woman is a victim of sex trafficking or domestic violence, and whether the woman is being “coerced into obtaining an abortion.”

“What this bill is about is getting information,” argued Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert.

But Farnsworth’s desire for information has limits.

Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, proposed expanding the list to include two other questions.

One was whether the woman lacked access to affordable health care. The other was whether the woman did not have access to “adequate comprehensive sex education.”

He said a theme repeated throughout the debate was that the additional information would lead to fewer abortions.

One way to do that, Hernandez said, is to have fewer unintended pregnancies. And if that’s the goal, then women should be asked if things like access to contraceptives — and even not knowing how to use a condom — resulted in them getting pregnant in the first place.

Farnsworth swatted down the proposal.

“Sex education is not a health care issue,” he said.

“Having access to contraception is not a health care issue,” Farnsworth continued. “It’s a pre-health care issue.”

Wow! For this mouth-breather knuckle-dragging Neanderthal with a fetus fetish, women are only relevant when they are pregnant. Women do not have a right to access to health care before they are pregnant, and after having given birth, the response from our GOP-controlled Arizona legislature to both mother and child has always been “you’re on your own baby.” This is the level of perversity of those with a fetus fetish.

Hernandez countered that it is impossible to separate the question of how and why people got pregnant with the question of why they are seeking to terminate that pregnancy.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, agreed.

She cited figures that 51 percent of pregnancies in Arizona are unintended and 44 percent of live births are to women who are not married, most of these to women younger than 20.

“This is an issue of poverty and access to care,” Powers Hannley said. “And we should let women make their own medical decisions without the help of government.”

Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, had no more luck with her proposal to have some state oversight of “pregnancy crisis centers” which she said are storefront operations that seek to persuade women against having an abortion but masquerade as providing medical care, many of which have no medical personnel present,.

“And yet they’re giving medical advice to women on their pregnancy,” Salman said, yet refusing to provide referrals to women who decide they do, in fact, want an abortion. She said having some state oversight of what goes on there “guarantees that we can start getting the facts that are necessary to protect women’s choices and protect their health care during pregnancy.”

Farnsworth said what Salman proposed was “just to obfuscate the issue.”

He was no more supportive of a proposal by Rep. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, to eliminate some restrictions already in place, like a waiting period before a woman can terminate a pregnancy.

Engel argued that if the discussion is about maternal health that abortion is “one of the safest medical procedures” available. More to the point, she said the longer a woman is forced to wait before having an abortion, the riskier the procedure becomes.

That whole discussion drew derision from House Majority Leader John Allen, R-Scottsdale.

“It’s hard to hear that this is the safest procedure in surgery when we know that a death occurs every time one happens,” he said.

Another forced birther.

Farnsworth specifically defended the questions on sex trafficking and whether a woman was being coerced. He said the questionnaire gives clinic and hospital officials a chance to take the woman into a separate room, without others present, to get some answers and get her help if she needs.

A hypocritical position to take given the Arizona scandal of 1,700 rape kits untested by Phoenix police in 2015 that the GOP-controlled legislature only got around to addressing in 2017. All rape kits must be tested in ‘timely manner’ under new AZ law. It only mattered to Tea-Publicans when it became a political liability.

Salman, for her part, said the whole discussion is inappropriate.

“It’s none of the government’s business why a woman is getting an abortion,” she said.

This is the correct position if women enjoyed equal rights under the Constitutition.

The measure now returns to the Senate which has to decide whether to accept the House amendments.

Contact your state senators in opposition to SB 1394 with the House Amendments.

And for those of you living in Legislative District 12, defeating Eddie Farsworth in November should be your life’s mission until election day. He has to go.

UPDATE: The Senate passed the House amended version of  SB 1394 on a largely paty-line vote of 17-13 Wednesday to approve a list of questions about the reasons for deciding to terminate a pregnancy. Abortion questionnaire bill on Ducey’s desk:

It is now up to “Cathi’s clown” Gov. Doug Ducey to decide whether women will be asked why they want an abortion.

SB 1394 does allow a woman to refuse to answer any and all of them. But Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, said that does not diminish what she said is the real purpose behind the measure.

“The motivation is simply to harass and intimidate and shame the women who go in to receive this constitutionally protected medical procedure as well as the doctors who provide it,” she said.

And Hobbs said the new requirements will lead to a legal challenge, “costing Arizona taxpayer dollars just to further one particular group’s political, ideological agenda.” That refers to the anti-abortion Center for Arizona Policy which crafted the bill.

* * *

Supporters of the legislation have argued repeatedly that this is not designed to impair the constitutional right of women to terminate their pregnancy, pointing out that women remain free to refuse to answer the questions. But Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said she cannot separate it out from the underlying issue.

“What I want to be is a voice for the little voices, for the ones whose lives are snuffed out because of the many, many reasons women choose abortion,” she said.

Sen. Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix was the lone Republican to oppose the measure while Democratic Sen. Catherine Miranda, also of Phoenix, voted for it.

Ducey has signed every abortion restriction and reporting requirement that has reached his desk since he took office in 2015.

7 thoughts on “GOP legislators reject equal rights for women, because abortion (Updated)”

  1. Crisis pregnancy centers are not funded by the government and are run by volunteers. They provide free education, free pregnancy tests, free contraceptives, free help with clothes, diapers, etc., and free ultrasound. 86% of women who saw their baby on an ultrasound chose not to abort their baby.

    Planned parenthood receives a half a billion dollars every year yet they only offer an ultrasound as part of an abortion package deal. It is around $150 for the ultrasound abortion deposit with full costs around $500 and up. How is the average women supposed to afford to drop 500 bucks for an unplanned pregnancy they didn’t even know to save for in the first place? They do not offer any actual healthcare, such as mammograms, like they lead you to believe.Their services are not free. Margaret Sanger was so racist she started planned parenthood targeting the African American people. Her goal was to kill as many as possible until their race was eliminated.

    Pro choice is not pro abortion. If it is her choice then why are you so against her hearing other options she may or may not choose?

    Do you think women are not capable of making their own informed decision?

    How is that empowering women?

    You will not receive our votes.

    • Crisis centers pretend to be something they’re not to trick women.

      They should be called Fraud Centers and they should be made to say clearly in 10 foot tall letters that they are NOT women’s health clinics, they are religious cons.

      If crisis centers are such good things, then why do they lie? And isn’t lying a sin?

  2. Good lord, Arizona is run by idiots.

    “Farnsworth swatted down the proposal.

    “Sex education is not a health care issue,” he said.

    “Having access to contraception is not a health care issue,” Farnsworth continued. “It’s a pre-health care issue.””

    Someone please explain to Farnsworth how babies are made and how people get STDs.

    Good lord, Arizona is run by idiots.

  3. Shame, shame, shame on you Regina Cobb and Paul Mosely. You are both pawns to the Mesa, Old White Men Club. Can you tell when Farnsworth and Bowers are lying? Always. Conflict of interest, Bowers? How about yours?

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