Doctors speak out: Abortion access is on the  Arizona ballot 

People attend a “Fight4Her” pro-choice rally in front of the White House at Lafayette Square on March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo by Astrid Riecken || Getty Images

By Gloria Rebecca Gomez || Arizona Mirror

Just days before the 2022 midterm elections, Arizona doctors called on voters to elect pro-choice candidates, warning that their ability to care for women across the Grand Canyon state is at risk. 

The Committee to Protect Health Care, a national advocacy group and political action committee made up of thousands of doctors, held a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon to highlight the concerns of health care providers in the state. Arizona courts are currently grappling with a near-total abortion ban from 1864 which carries with it a mandatory 2- to 5-year prison sentence for doctors who perform the procedure when the patient’s life isn’t in danger. 

“Arizona deserves leaders who will improve access to affordable quality health care, not those who put up barriers to care,” said Dr. Susan Hughes, a retired family practice physician. 

 The power to restrict access, she said, as demonstrated by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who initiated the legal action that revived the Civil War-era ban. Voting in pro-choice candidates at the state and federal levels would help safeguard abortion access, she added.

“Arizona’s next state lawmakers and governor could work to repeal the state’s current bans and restore fundamental abortion care,” Hughes said. “Arizona’s U.S. senator will also have a hand in determining the future of health care as some in Congress push for a national abortion ban.” 

Along with the 1864 law, which is paused while legal challenges continue, is a 15-week ban that became law in September. Democrats, if awarded a legislative majority and the governor’s seat, have signaled a willingness to strike down both laws, while Republican candidates for office have moved in the direction of keeping current restrictions in place and enacting bans at the federal level.

Hughes added that, as the first election after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it’s a prime opportunity for voters to signal their disapproval with the decision. 

If voters fail to elect candidates who will secure access to abortion, Hughes said she worries the outcome for women will be bleak, mirroring that of states like Texas, which have already shown health consequences when doctors hesitate to provide care for fear of criminalization. 

“Serious complications are on the rise because doctors are afraid,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen to our patients.”

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