A week ago, hundreds of Catholics rallied in Phoenix, Arizona to protest the Affordable Care Act. The Catholic Sun has a nice gallery of photos on Flickr, in which placards are visible in the sunshine, reading “Pray to End Abortion,” “God’s Will Not Obama’s Will,” and “Religious Freedom for All.”
Less than a week after that protest, the Legislature state passed the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation we’ve seen since the Great Republican Takeover of 2010. In Arizona, they’re going beyond “fetal pain” bills like Nebraska’s, which outlaw abortions twenty weeks into the actual pregnancy.
Last Thursday, the Arizona House passed HB 2036, which would make abortions illegal after twenty weeks, but what matters most is when those 20 weeks begin. Confused? Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones breaks it down:
…Arizona’s law would actually be more restrictive than others, as the bill states that the gestational age of the fetus should be “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman…”
Most women ovulate about 14 or 15 days after their period starts, and women can usually get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occurred anywhere between five days before ovulation and a day after it. Arizona’s law would start the clock at a woman’s last period—which means, in practice, that the law prohibits abortion later than 18 weeks after a woman actually becomes pregnant.
Amanda Marcotte, writing in RH Reality Check, points out that this isn’t about preventing abortion so much as it is about combining legal authority with moral and using both to restrict women’s sex lives:
Now with this Arizona bill, if a woman is deemed pregnant two weeks before she actually is, prosecutors could even have a chance to look at your choices when you weren’t even pregnant—before you even had the sex that made you pregnant—and blame those choices for bad outcomes. They’re creating, brick by brick, the legal basis on which to prosecute a woman who drinks some alcohol, becomes pregnant two weeks later, and miscarries, even though she didn’t drink while pregnant. And you best believe that when feminists protest this, they’ll just paint it as if we’re more interested in protecting drunken sluts than “babies.”
When you ask why a party would gin up a fake federal war against Catholicism while at the same time it passes laws like this, you’ve likely answered your own question.