Bill to disincentivize abortions narrowly makes it out of Arizona House Health Committee

The proposal to establish a Family Pilot Program for abortion-seeking women caused tensions to flare at Monday’s meeting of the Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee.

House Bill 2404 would allocate $3,000,000 from the general fund —  $1,500,000 each for FY 22 and FY 23 — to the Department of Health Services (DHS) to establish the program. The bill mandates that these funds are given to a non-profit organization to implement a state-wide system that provides services to the biological or adoptive parents of children under 2 years old. This includes “unborn children,” per the bill. 

 

 

According to Rep. Michelle Udall, the bill’s sponsor, the goal of this bill is to help women find alternatives to abortions.

“The point of this bill is to help women in crisis who are trying to make a very difficult decision. What we’ve found is that many of the women who seek abortions are doing so because they see no other alternative. They don’t have the resources, the support system, and the money that they feel they need to support a child, and they don’t know where to go for those resources.”

The bill contains an amendment that specifies DHS can give funds to multiple non-profit organizations and that the department is encouraged to give preference to non-profits operating within Arizona.

Part of its funding would go toward advertising to reach out to women seeking abortions. These women would be contacted by individuals working for the program in order to help them decide not to pursue abortions.

The Arizona Family Health Partnership is against the bill, with their testimony claiming the program would expose women contemplating abortions to information not based on science. The Secular Coalition of Arizona, the National Council for Jewish Women and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also testified in opposition.

Representative Kelli Butler was outspoken in her opposition to the bill, saying she was shocked that Republican committee members put a hold on an oral health bill for pregnant women last week due concerns over its several million dollar price tag, yet they are fully supporting this $3 million bill.

“This is 3 million of our tax dollars going to pay for what has been described last year as an ‘advertising program,’ and what we heard described this year as just a big administrative program that is targeting women. It uses $3 million of our tax dollars to violate peoples’ privacy, track them and potentially harass them with unwanted ads about private health issues.”

The bill passed narrowly, with four of the nine present members (every Democratic committee member) voting “nay.”