Arizona County Bans Abortions at Public Hospitals, Pro-Life Groups Applaud

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 12, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona County Bans Abortions at Public Hospitals, Pro-Life Groups Applaud Email this article
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by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
October 12, 2004

Phoenix, AZ ( — A measure to ban abortions in Marcopia County-owned medical facilities passed after a 4-1 vote last week. Under the new deed restriction, abortion is only permitted in the rare cases where it is necessary 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.

The sole vote against the ban came from Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who had voiced opposition to the measure when it was introduced.

The 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.

County policy already prohibited abortions at the county’s hospital and Arizona law prohibits the use of public funding for abortions.

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 told the Arizona Republic after he had introduced the ban. "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.

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
District 2 Supervisor Don Stapley – (602) 506-7431
District 3 Supervisor Andy Kunasek – (602) 506-7562
District 4 Supervisor Max Wilson – (602) 506-7642
District 5 Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox -(602) 506-7092