“Arizona has other pressing problems but choice is the most urgent for Legislature” – Laura Terech

Opinion: We have water supply and teacher shortage crises on our hands, but we cannot make progress if half of Arizonans are relegated to second class. – Laura Terech

This article was originally published by AZ Central.

We knew that this moment was coming.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, my candidacy for the Arizona Legislature became all the more critical. My fellow candidates supporting abortion rights and I knew the stakes had become even higher.

The difference between electing a pro-abortion-rights majority and failing to do so is the difference between women having access to life-saving health care or being cut off from the treatment they need.

For so many Arizonans, there is no option but to fight back against these attacks.

As the former president of the Arizona chapter of National Organization for Women, I have had difficult conversations for years with people. In one instance, I remember learning about a married woman with two children who was forced to travel out of state to receive an unsafe abortion during the pre-Roe era, an abortion that she paid for with her life.

It is not a mystery what is going to happen now that abortion is outlawed. History will repeat itself.

I have always fought for Arizona women. I won’t stop now.

I am profoundly aware of the impact that reproductive freedom has on Arizona families, knowing that the decision to start a family is deeply personal. Now, the state is preemptively deciding for us.

The impact of abortion bans is felt hardest in marginalized communities, such as women living in poverty, women of color and the LGBTQ community.

Even prior to the most restrictive bans on abortion, women sacrificed millions of dollars per year in economic power because of the abortion policies our current legislative majority has shepherded, championed and celebrated.

When we force people to have children and they have no choice but to drop out of the workforce, they pay for it in wage loss, career growth and retirement savings. This serves as another stark reminder of just how important paid family leave is — something many Arizonans go without.

Majority lawmakers have spent years passing laws designed to demolish abortion access the instant Roe v. Wade fell. This foreshadows what will happen if the current majority clings to power for even just one more year.

As a result of the pre-statehood ban on abortion, emergency contraception and in-vitro fertilization could be in jeopardy for Arizonans. In other states with similar bans, the privacy of women is at risk and being monitored by the state. Doctors could face jail time for providing the care they know is best for patients.

Not only is this pre-statehood law deadly, it’s also deeply unpopular and out of step with the voters I speak with every day. Voters know that the government has no right to make decisions for us in our doctor’s offices. Arizonans have always believed in individual freedom and personal liberties.

As evidenced by our ongoing megadrought and teacher shortage, I know there are a number of issues that must be addressed in the Arizona Legislature next year. As a former teacher in Arizona public schools, I know better than anyone how urgently we need to fix public education in our state.

I also know that we have to take critical steps to manage our water supply and safeguard our voting rights.

But we can’t make progress if half of our population is relegated to the second class – forced to carry to term pregnancies from rape or a nonviable pregnancy.

In November, choice is on the ballot.

The fate of Arizonans’ reproductive freedom has already been unjustly stripped away by the state Legislature and by the courts. Arizonans know we are headed in the wrong direction when an abortion ban from the Civil War era has been brought back to life.

The Legislature is where access to reproductive care will be expanded or chipped away.

Every legislator supporting abortion access elected gets us one step closer to the repeal of the 1864 ban. Voters can’t send back the same old, same old this time around. Let’s build a better Arizona where people can choose if and how they want to grow their family.

Laura Terech is the Democratic nominee for the Arizona House in Legislative District 4, which includes north Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. She has served as president of the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for Women. Reach her at [email protected].

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