By Senator Nancy Barto and Representative Michelle Udall
Despite the efforts of the left, Arizona is a pro-life state. In addition to our pro-life laws, our state is home to dozens of centers, clinics, and social services to support women and families facing unplanned pregnancy. But what happens when those very women and families don’t know about these resources?
12 years ago, Tina Stephens had an abortion. But an abortion was the last thing she wanted. After finding out she was pregnant, she searched desperately online for resources and support to make it financially possible for her and her husband to bring another baby into their family. But she couldn’t find what she needed. Today, she suffers from diagnosed PTSD. Her abortion took a heavy toll on her mental and emotional health and her marriage. This month, she testified on behalf of a bill that she says may have kept her from choosing abortion had it passed 12 years ago.
We know Tina isn’t the only one with this story.
Our bill (SB1251 / HB2404) establishes the Family Health Pilot Program to reach out to women and families facing an unplanned or challenging pregnancy and connect them with vital resources including social services, medical information, emotional support, prenatal and parenting classes, and material aid ranging from car seats, cribs, diapers, and formula to GED prep and adoption referrals. The goal of the program is to promote healthy pregnancy and family formation as an alternative to abortion.
We aren’t the first state to try this. A similar program has been running successfully in Texas for several years. They found that over 70% of women considering abortion did so because of financial concerns and lack of support. When connected with resources through this outreach program, 49% of the women opted to choose life. This bill would fund advertising necessary to reach these women and families, personnel (including registered nurses and care advocates), and administration and operations. The funding would be open to any organization who meets the qualifications to run such a program – with preference given to organizations based in Arizona.
“I really truly wish there was something like this bill available for me when I was scared and alone and didn’t know what to do,” said Tina Stephens during her moving testimony on February 2nd. “Information is the link that would have made a very big difference between my husband and I making the decision to abort our baby and not aborting our baby and I believe it truly will make a big difference for people today who are scared, confused, and alone and have no idea how to find resources that are available to them.”
As legislators, it is our job to protect the most vulnerable in our state. That includes the preborn child and women and families in crisis.
Arizona is a pro-life state and one of the best places to raise a family. This bill is critical to making Arizona one of the best places to carry a pregnancy and form a family. Let’s not allow lives to be lost and women like Tina to struggle alone when help exists. Let’s save lives and prevent decades of suffering and regret. The time to pass this bill in now.
Reach out to your state representative and ask them to vote YES on SB1251 and HB2404 so that, as Tina says, no one has to feel like abortion is the only choice they have.
Senator Nancy Barto of North Phoenix represents Arizona’s 15th Legislative District and serves as Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services committee.
Representative Michelle Udall of Mesa represents Arizona’s 25th Legislative District and serves as Chair of the House Education committee.