Bills on abor­tion ques­tions, in­sur­ance con­tracts signed

The Arizona Republic - - Valley & State - Dustin Gar­diner

Ari­zona Gov. Doug Ducey ended the week by sign­ing two high-pro­file bills into law, mea­sures deal­ing with ques­tions for abor­tion pa­tients and an­other deal­ing with non-English ver­sions of in­sur­ance con­tracts.

Ducey inked dozens of bills this week, but Se­nate Bill 1394 and House Bill 2083 are among the most con­tro­ver­sial he has signed so far this year.

Se­nate Bill 1394 re­quires doc­tors to ask women seek­ing abor­tions for a spe­cific rea­son why they want to end their preg­nancy.

Specif­i­cally, the bill will make doc­tors ask women if their abor­tion is the re­sult of sex­ual as­sault or be­cause they are vic­tims of sex traf­fick­ing or do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Women can refuse to an­swer.

Doc­tors must re­port the an­swer to the Ari­zona De­part­ment of Health Ser­vices, which al­ready col­lects a myr­iad of abor­tion-re­lated stats from doc­tors. Pa­tient names must be kept con­fi­den­tial and a woman can de­cline to an­swer the ques­tions.

Repub­li­cans and other sup­port­ers of SB 1394 said the ques­tions are in­tended to help vic­tims of as­sault or traf­fick­ing who are co­erced into hav­ing an abor­tion. If a woman says her abor­tion is due to as­sault, in­cest, co­er­cion, hu­man traf­fick­ing or do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, the abor­tion clinic is re­quired to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about how to con­tact law en­force­ment and ac­cess sup­port ser­vices.

Cathi Her­rod, pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Ari­zona Pol­icy, an anti-abor­tion ad­vo­cacy group that helped write the bill, said the new re­port­ing re­quire­ments will also help im­prove women’s health ser­vices.

“These changes will pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant data to en­able pol­i­cy­mak­ers and oth­ers to bet­ter meet the needs of women con­sid­er­ing an abor­tion,” Her­rod said in a state­ment. “I en­cour­age all Ari­zo­nans to look be­yond the rhetoric and read this com­mon-sense leg­is­la­tion.”

The bill was op­posed by the Ari­zona

“These changes will pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant data to en­able pol­i­cy­mak­ers and oth­ers to bet­ter meet the needs of women con­sid­er­ing an abor­tion.” Cathi Her­rod Jodi Liggett Pres­i­dent, of Cen­ter for Ari­zona Pol­icy “In­stead of sham­ing and ha­rass­ing women seek­ing health care, we urge pol­i­cy­mak­ers to fo­cus on re­spect­ful so­lu­tions that ac­tu­ally lower the abor­tion rate, like birth con­trol.” Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Planned Par­ent­hood Ad­vo­cates of Ari­zona

Coali­tion to End Sex­ual and Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence, along with a host of pro­fes­sional med­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tions.

“It re­ally adds an­other layer of trauma to a sit­u­a­tion that’s al­ready fraught with a lot of stigma and nerves,” said Ja­son Vail Cruz, the coali­tion’s sex­ual vi­o­lence pol­icy co­or­di­na­tor.

Democrats and other op­po­nents of SB 1394 said the real pur­pose of the mea­sure is to scare women. They said it’s none of gov­ern­ment’s busi­ness why a women seeks a le­gal med­i­cal pro­ce­dure.

“In­stead of sham­ing and ha­rass­ing women seek­ing health care, we urge pol­i­cy­mak­ers to fo­cus on re­spect­ful so­lu­tions that ac­tu­ally lower the abor­tion rate, like birth con­trol,” said Jodi Liggett, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Planned Par­ent­hood Ad­vo­cates of Ari­zona.

Liggett said Planned Par­ent­hood is re­view­ing sev­eral of Ari­zona’s abor­tion­re­lated laws and con­sid­er­ing chal­leng­ing them in court on con­sti­tu­tional grounds.

The bill also would re­quire doc­tors and clin­ics to re­port more spe­cific in­for­ma­tion about any med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions from an abor­tion, which they al­ready must re­port to the state.

Med­i­cal groups and abor­tion providers, how­ever, say the re­quire­ments are un­nec­es­sary and in­tended to bur­den clin­ics. Se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions from abor­tion are rare, ac­cord­ing to data from the state health de­part­ment.

Non-English speak­ers who buy auto or home in­sur­ance in Ari­zona will soon be bound to a ver­sion of a con­tract that they can’t read.

House Bill 2083 makes the English­language ver­sion of all in­sur­ance agree­ments the legally bind­ing form, even if a cus­tomer re­ceives the con­tract in an­other lan­guage that con­tains con­flict­ing word­ing.

Some op­po­nents called the bill racially mo­ti­vated. Democrats and im­mi­grant ad­vo­cates said they are un­sure what prob­lem the bill is try­ing to ad­dress.

Rep. David Liv­ingston, R-Peo­ria, the bill’s spon­sor, said those ar­gu­ments have been full of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“Just for the record, I did not ap­pre­ci­ate the grand­stand­ing,” Liv­ingston said in Jan­uary dur­ing a com­mit­tee hear­ing on the pro­posal.

“I think there’s been a lot of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion about this bill.”

Liv­ingston ar­gued HB 2083 gives in­sur­ance com­pa­nies an in­cen­tive to pro­vide trans­la­tions of con­tracts, be­cause of­fer­ing non-English ver­sions of con­tracts can pose a le­gal li­a­bil­ity if there’s con­flict­ing lan­guage.

Even though state law pro­hibits in­sur­ance fraud, sup­port­ers ar­gue the bill makes clear which form of the con­tract is legally dom­i­nant.

Lob­by­ists from sev­eral ma­jor in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Na­tion­wide, Farm­ers, Ge­ico and State Farm, sup­ported the mea­sure.

Ex­ist­ing state reg­u­la­tions al­ready re­quire in­sur­ers to pro­vide a sworn state­ment from trans­la­tors en­sur­ing trans­lated con­tracts match the English doc­u­ment.

State Sen. Steve Far­ley, D-Tuc­son, said the bill trans­fers risk from in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to cus­tomers by hav­ing them agree to a con­tract they might not be able to com­pletely un­der­stand.

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