Arizona County Considers Prohibiting Abortions in Taxpayer-Funded Buildings

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona County Considers Prohibiting Abortions in Taxpayer-Funded Buildings Email this article
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by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
September 22, 2004

Phoenix, AZ ( — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is considering a deed restriction that would prohibit abortions in county-owned health facilities. The only exception to the ban would be in very rare instances to save the life of the mother.

Chairman Andrew Kunasek introduced the restriction in a draft agreement between the new health care district and the county. The county supervisors currently serve as the newly-formed health care district’s board, until a new board is created next year.

Organizations on both sides of the issue have been asking supporters to contact the Board, as the decision made this fall will set the policy of the new district, and could possibly take the decision to allow abortion out of the hands of the health care district’s Board of Supervisors.

The proposed ban states: "No abortion shall be performed at any facility under the jurisdiction of the District unless such abortion is necessary to save the life of the woman having the abortion, or is otherwise required by law."

The clause "or is otherwise required by law" was added at the request of attorneys.

Currently, county policy prohibits abortions at the county’s hospital and Arizona law prohibits the use of public funding for abortions.

Consultant Jack Hess, hired to oversee the transition of the new health care district, has deemed the restriction inappropriate, suggesting that the policy decision be left to the district supervisors after they are elected and take office.

County supervisors agreed last year that major financial and policy decisions should be made by the new board, but Kunasek said the abortion restriction is the "right decision" to make now.

"I have very strong feelings on the issue of abortion," Kunasek old the Arizona Republic. "I also think it’s something that could be very destructive for this new district, especially in its early years, to get into that business."

"We need to set them on the right path. I feel an obligation to do that," added Kunasek. "It’s a fundamental right, the right to life. To me, that’s just something that’s not negotiable."

Kunasek is joined in his support by fellow supervisors Fulton Brock and Max Wilson. Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox has expressed her opposition, and Supervisor Don Stapley has declined to comment on his position.

Cathi Herrod, director of policy for the Center for Arizona Policy, said the clause is important to maintaining a pro-life policy in the county.

"It’s a fairly simple matter," Herrod said. "The purpose of the deed restriction is to maintain the long-standing county policies regarding abortion."

In June, Kunasek led an effort to transfer control of an obstetrics and gynecology residency program to the Catholic-based St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. That transfer has not yet been approved.

A public forum is scheduled for Thursday to allow public residents to speak out on the abortion restriction and the agreement.

ACTION ALERT: Contact the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors regarding the
deed restriction on abortions in Maricopa County:

District 1 Supervisor Fulton Brock (602) 506-1776 [email protected]
District 2 Supervisor Don Stapley (602) 506-7431 [email protected]
District 3 Supervisor Andy Kunasek (602) 506-7562 [email protected]
District 4 Supervisor Max Wilson (602) 506-7642 [email protected]
District 5 Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox (602) 506-7092
[email protected]