Local Opinion: I needed every health care option available during my recent pregnancy- Priya Sundareshan

This article was originally posted by The Arizona Daily Star

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

The Supreme Court just overturned Roe v. Wade, removing federal protections for the right to have an abortion — and opening the door to restricting more of our rights.

To make matters worse, our current Arizona attorney general has indicated he will seek to enforce the currently-enjoined territorial law (enacted even before Arizona became a state in 1912) that makes it a crime for anyone to provide an abortion.

When I’m speaking to the voters of Legislative District 18 at their doors, I hear a common refrain: Shock, that the Supreme Court could reverse a policy that women have counted on for half a century. Anger, that six unelected justices could so suddenly take away the rights of half the population to control their own bodies. Fear, that other fundamental rights will fall next.

Now we know that it’s up to each state whether we have the right to access the full suite of health care options during pregnancy, including abortion. And given the laws Arizona has recently passed with its thin Republican majority, our concerns are valid.

I share the voters’ concerns, for I was recently pregnant. I had my second child almost four months ago, and watched with concern–bordering on panic–as our state Legislature passed laws during my pregnancy impacting the health care I could receive.

Due to pandemic precautions, a shortage of health care workers from burnout, or simply the provider’s policy — or all three — I was not able to schedule my first appointment until I was 12 weeks pregnant. Remember, the “weeks” begin counting from the last menstruation, so a person can be considered a few weeks pregnant immediately after conception.

Although I had been trying for pregnancy and testing regularly, my first appointment at 12 weeks was not much more than a confirmation that yes, indeed, I was pregnant. It would not be for a few more weeks that I would be able to have the additional tests that could confirm that the pregnancy was proceeding without complications for my health and the health of the fetus.

Earlier last year, the Legislature passed a law criminalizing the provision of abortion for reasons of genetic abnormalities, and I was waiting for my own test results during the time this law would go into effect. Thankfully, this law was quickly put on hold while lawsuits were pending.

But just last week the U.S. Supreme Court allowed that law to go into effect while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals continues to consider its legality.

I’m so grateful to Mayor Romero and the Tucson City Council, who recently announced a directive that Tucson police will not make arrests over these new laws. And I’m thankful that the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, Kris Mayes, has promised she will not prosecute people for seeking or providing abortions.

However, there continues to be uncertainty in Arizona over what the state of the law is at this exact moment, and what additional restrictions on our individual freedoms will follow.

But here’s another thing I hear at voters’ doors: Resolve that women will rise up as a result of this decision and ensure that we protect our rights once again.

Now that the Supreme Court has removed federal protections to access an abortion and to control our own bodies, it is more important than ever to elect people at the state and local levels who will fight for our rights.

We need to elect representatives who can speak from experience and who will not be swayed by dreams of bipartisan action.

That’s why I’m proud to be the only LD18 Senate candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and Arizona List as a champion for protecting reproductive rights. I will do my utmost to be faithful to that trust if elected, for the sake of all who are capable of pregnancy.

Priya Sundareshan is a candidate for Arizona Senate in Legislative District 18, and her two boys are healthy (after complications during delivery).

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