Abortion Advocates Wants U. Arizona Med Ctr to Perform Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 12, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion Advocates Want U. Arizona Med Ctr to Perform Abortions

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
November 12, 2003

Tucson, AZ (LifeNews.com) — Arizona pro-abortion groups are trying to repeal a state law that prohibits abortions at the University Medical Center in Tucson, the teaching hospital for the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

ARS 15-1630 was passed in 1974 and prohibits abortions at any facility under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents except to save the life of the mother. It was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 1976, and has gone unchallenged for almost 30 years.

Pro-abortion groups at the University of Arizona, including Medical Students for Choice and Students for Choice, claim the law has resulted in a “gag order” on abortion in the curriculum.

Unless a medical student wants to volunteer at Planned Parenthood training classes off-campus, only one hour of abortion-related education is required for a graduating physician at University of Arizona, according to NARAL, as well as a 2-hour class discussion about abortion counseling. Only 10-15 students per year participate in Planned Parenthood’s program.

Sen. Tim Bee (R-Tuscon) said he would not vote to repeal the law, but questioned whether it really was restrictive of training students could receive at the university.

“I probably would not support repealing that because of my pro-life stand,” said Sen. Bee. “They probably should get an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office as to whether they can give instruction.”

“I support the policy as it is,” concurred Sen. Thayer Verschoor (R-). “I don’t think the state should pay for learning that specific procedure. I don’t support abortion.”

Pro-life groups say they will fight any lifting of the ban.

"Arizona Right to Life intends to safeguard the taxpayers of Arizona from the extreme agenda of the abortion industry by fighting any attempt to repeal the law,” Shane Wikfors, Executive Director of Arizona Right to Life, told LifeNews.com.

"Arizonans do not want their tax dollars going to fund any abortions. It’s not an issue of censorship, it’s an issue of sponsorship,” Wikfors added. "We find it overly-ambitious  that some little pro-abortion clubs at the U of A think they can overturn a law that has the widespread support of Arizonans and the Arizona Supreme Court."

Others say the pro-abortion students are biting off more than they can chew.

“Knowing our legislators, it (repealing the law) would be hopeless,” said Dr. Eva Shapiro, a Tucson pediatrician and healthcare activist. “It would be a losing battle.”

Rep. Jim Skelly of Scottsdale, the original author of the pro-life law, said it originally created “quite a fight” at the university. As the ban was an amendment to an appropriations bill to expand the football stadium, university officials allowed it to pass.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that prohibiting non-therapeutic abortions at University Medical Center at the University of Arizona was constitutional, because of the hospital’s status as a teaching hospital and the availability of other public facilities for abortions did not require the need for publicly funded abortions.

Students for Choice is also pledging to fight for their position, including an ad campaign favoring the repeal in the student newspaper and the distribution of literature at university events.

“Our activities to repeal the abortion law have been limited to the ad, since our goal is to initially educate the public about this archaic mandate and publicize the connection between the stadium funding…and a woman’s right to basic healthcare services,” said Amy Shlossman of Students for Choice.

“No one in my classes even heard of the law,” third-year medical student Kate Bermingham, a regional coordinator with Medical Students for Choice, told the Associated Press. “It gets little play on campus.”

Only California and New York City require, by law, that medical schools provide abortion education and training.

Related web sites:
Arizona Right to Life – https://www.azrtl.org