Arizona lawmaker shares plan to decriminalize abortion in speech

When Eva Burch recently learned she might lose another pregnancy, she felt overwhelmed.

The Arizona state senator has struggled with fertility for years, suffering miscarriages for more than a decade and an abortion in 2022 after experiencing an unviable pregnancy. She and her husband knew that her current pregnancy was unlikely to be viable. After a medical provider told her she couldn't give birth to a healthy baby, she knew she was going to seek another abortion.

Around this time, Burch and her husband also made another difficult decision: She would tell the Arizona Senate about her plan to end her pregnancy β€” and the state's abortion restrictions made it all the more painful.

“I think we both felt enough was enough,” Burch, a Democrat and mother of two, told The Washington Post.

On Monday, he shared his story in a 10-minute speech on the Senate floor. Voice shaking, Burch told her colleagues that she had gone to a clinic on Friday where she was given invasive ultrasounds and counseling despite already knowing about alternatives to abortion. Her pregnancy is unlikely. Burch said in the speech that those experiences, as required under Arizona law, were “horrendous.”

His comments highlighted the conflict over abortion in Arizona, where the procedure is illegal after 15 weeks and abortion advocates hope to win protections in the state's constitution this year, potentially reinstating the total ban.

As Burch took the microphone, some of his Democratic colleagues stood behind him to show their support. He said some GOP senators could be seen leaving the chamber.

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Still, Burch continued to speak, hoping to show “the reality of how the work we do in this body affects people in the real world.”

“There is no one-size-fits-all script for people seeking abortion care, and the Legislature has no right to assign one,” she said Monday.

Arizona law A provider should perform the ultrasound and give the patient the opportunity to view the image at least 24 hours before the abortion. There are also doctors required “A reasonable patient would consider the decision whether or not to undergo an abortion” to inform patients about alternatives.

Attempts by the Post to reach Arizona officials who sponsored bills restricting abortion were unsuccessful Tuesday. Arizona Majority Leader Sen. Sonny Borelli (R) also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to Burch's spokesman, Borelli left the room during Burch's speech before returning to adjourn for the day.

On the Senate floor, Burch described the protocol mandated by state law as interfering with what he believes is “the safest and most appropriate treatment for me.” She said she was forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound examination that she did not want, and was then told about alternatives, including parenthood and adoption.

Before she was elected to the Arizona Senate, Burch worked as a nurse at a women's health clinic for more than a decade. That background, he said in his speech, “I convey my understanding of the situation.”

In 2022, while campaigning for the seat she held, Burch learned her pregnancy was not viable. She started miscarrying before her abortion appointment. But she could not get hospital treatment because, she said, she was “not bleeding” and her case was not considered critical.

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The next day she had an abortion at a clinic. Two weeks later, the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. WadeReversing the 50-year right to abortion.

As he spoke on the Senate floor, Burch told The Post that he felt fear pumping through him.

β€œIt's unnatural for me to share like that. It makes me uncomfortable,” he said on Tuesday. “But I felt strongly that it was the right thing to do.”

While Burch did not reveal who her providers were or the exact dates she learned of her pregnancy and its prognosis, she described the difficulty of recent weeks, saying, “She is the perfect example of why we need to have this relationship between patients and providers.” “

He insisted that voters be given the chance to have an abortion in November. Abortion rights groups in the state have put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would guarantee the right to an abortion between 22 and 24 weeks.

“The Arizona Legislature doesn't have the right people for that job,” Burch said. “Arizonians deserve the freedom and liberty to make those decisions for themselves.”

Ahead of Monday's speech, Burch kept his plans largely private. But minutes before the session began, he told some of his Democratic colleagues what he wanted to do on the floor and invited them to stand with him.

While Burch wanted her Republican colleagues to hear her story and was disappointed to see them leave, she hoped her words would reach Arizonans beyond the chamber β€” especially those who faced difficult decisions or had to navigate the changing landscape of reproductive care.

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“I'm with them. I appreciate them,” Burch said Monday. “I'm them.”

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