Personhood has come to Arizona!

01 Feb 2012 04:51 pm
Posted by: Donna

steve smith

Okay, people, did I not tell you the other day that being vigilant about reproductive justice is important? Personhood has reared its head in Arizona.

2010 was the year Arizona voters lost their damn minds and sent a bunch of reactionary whackaloons to the Arizona Legislature, essentially to show that Kenyan Usurper in the White House what was what. So we lost people like Rebecca Rios, a veteran Dem legislator and a strong advocate for children and the working poor, who had served her constituents and the state well. Pinal County voters sent Senator Rios packing and replaced her with Steve Smith, a businessman and Teabagger neophyte from the city of Maricopa.

It turns out that Senator Smith, in addition to being a simple-minded reactionary who marches in lockstep with Russell Pearce, is a dudebro with a massive preoccupation with what ladies are doing with their ladybusiness. I know. Shocking.

I really have to commend reporter Howie Fischer for asking Smith direct questions and making him go on record about his intentions with this “personhood” bill rather than let him blather about “the sanctity of life” and how much he cares about us delicate, fragile little ladies. Smith certainly tried to pull that paternalistic horsepuckey but couldn’t avoid making it crystal clear what a nasty piece of misogynist work he truly is.

But Smith said he sees a benefit in the legislation regardless of whether it ultimately leads to abortions once again being illegal in Arizona. He said the current informed consent requirements go only so far.

“But when they see what you’re killing is a human being in front of them, I think that’s hopefully just one more stopgate in their mental processing to say, ‘Oh, it’s not just an amalgamation of cells and globs of this and plasma this and blood this,'” he said.

“Mental processing”? WTF? It’s so unbelievably insulting. And creepy.

Smith’s legislation would apply in both cases of surgical and medical abortions, the latter involving the use of RU-486 which induces a woman to miscarry.

Less clear is how a law defining life as beginning at conception might affect the legal use of the “morning-after pill.”

One theory is that the pill, essentially a large dose of hormones, prevents a woman from ovulating. Smith said he subscribes to an alternate theory that the hormones prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus

I never cease to be amazed by how indiscriminately anti-choicers spew out uninformed medical opinions. It’s like they think that a lifelong burning obsession with what ladies are doing with their ladybits somehow bestows a license to practice medicine upon them. And the overwhelming consensus of medical science is that emergency contraception works by suppressing ovulation. You can “subscribe to an alternate theory” that it kills tiny little fertilized egg people all you want to but the doctors and scientists are still right and you are still wrong.

The first-term lawmaker said if it were up to him, all abortions would be illegal. That separates him from several “pro-life” politicians, including Gov. Jan Brewer who said she would allow exceptions, including in cases of rape or incest.

“I guess I’m a purist,” he said. “It’s easy for me as a man to say that because I’ll never be in that situation.”

Yeah, I guess.

Smith said his reasons go back more to his religious beliefs.

“God doesn’t make mistakes,” he said. “I believe that God is still on the throne and that’s happening for a reason, whether we get it or not.”

Just so we’re clear: The theology that guides Smith’s public policy views is that of a God who sits on a throne inflicting rape and incest upon his subjects for reasons known only to Him.

SB 1494 would require a specific mention of depression and related psychological distress as well as the risk of infection, hemorrhage, danger to subsequent pregnancies and infertility.

Smith acknowledged nothing in the law requires a woman to be told about the impacts of carrying a child to term, including how that will affect her life or finances. He said that is justified.

“They’re not going to a childbirth clinic, they’re going to an abortion clinic,” he said. “At an abortion clinic, they should be told the risks of having an abortion, not having the risk of having a child.”

He said any woman interested in the latter information should see a family doctor.

An OB GYN would be the best person to talk to about that. Some of them do abortions too, which would probably blow Steve Smith’s mind if he were aware of that.

The bill does require women to be informed of the “medical risks associated with carrying the child to term compared to undergoing an induced abortion” but that is the extent of the language dealing with that. It doesn’t state what risks of childbirth are to be discussed. The provisions dealing with risks of abortion are more specifically delineated.


A comprehensive study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology determined that childbirth poses a risk of death to the woman 14 times higher than abortion. Postpartum depression is a very real and debilitating condition that affects a not insignificant percentage of new mothers. There are undoubtedly women in Arizona who don’t have good access to information about abortion, childbirth, or medical procedures in general. so a law intended to inform them should cover all the risks to the extent possible, not just those cherry-picked and distorted by anti-choicers in the hopes of steering women toward certain decisions. Of course, anti-choicers tend to drop their feigned concern for women’s health the second they are confronted with the fact that abortion is safer than childbirth. “Abortion is safer than childbirth? For whom?”, asked the very first comment to the Reuters article I linked. When their b.s. about harmful effects to women is debunked they shift seamlessly back to the fetus, as if that had been what the discussion was about all along. You are never going to get a straight answer out of a rabid anti-choicer because that would require them to admit their movement is based on misogyny and not a concern for “life”.

The aspect of the bill that’s going to get the most attention is the “personhood at conception” part but the rest of it is pretty damned offensive too and I appreciate that Howie Fischer covered it in his report. As far as the personhood thing goes, Smith told Fischer he wants this bill to be the test case for Roe v Wade. We’ll see how far that goes. So far no other legislators have co-sponsored it. Though it’s not a ballot referendum as has been tried (very unsuccessfully) in other states, a “personhood” bill is a risky move in an election year nonetheless. Smith was careful not to target birth control in the language of the bill but it’s bleedingly obvious from his statements that he’s set his sights on that too. If other legislators join him the Democratic campaign ads will write themselves. And it was Smith who introduced last year’s spate of anti-immigrant bills that didn’t end up passing because the “business community” stopped pretending to be neutral and helpless and intervened to stop them. So it’s hard to tell at this point where this thing is going to go. But this is certainly no time to be complacent


  1. Comment by Terry on February 1, 2012 5:32 pm

    To the Senator: Take this bill and shove it up your hind end you misogynistic creep

  2. Comment by Timmys Cat on February 2, 2012 8:42 am

    Smith said his reasons….

    “God doesn’t make mistakes,” he said. “
    Jokes, themselves, etc.

    Soooo, we have legislation written by someone who thinks they have a direct line to God. Their God, not everyones.

    I got to thinking (hush, it happens) about your previous post on abortion. I think what is happening is outrage fatigue about a subject most people don’t think effects them directly. What is being blurred so well is that the right wing is trying to control a MEDICAL decision by a woman. As with all medical procedures, in the end it is a personal choice whether to proceed or not.. It seems that most people seem to lose sight of the fact if one medical procedure is outlawed on moral grounds, what is to stop others from being banned? Vasectomies, sure are a form of birth control.. Right wingers are not known for moderation, so once that door is fully opened, who knows where they’ll stop. If they do stop.

    Clowns like Smith are a good foil for the rest to appear not so rabid, while they still cut personal rights with knives instead of a machete. The outcome is the same.

  3. Comment by Timmys Cat on February 2, 2012 9:53 am

    Today on the House floor, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) — a “big booster” for the foundation and a participant in its iconic Race for the Cure event — announced that she would no longer support the organization over it’s decision.

    Noting that the foundation based their decision to sever ties on anti-choice advocate Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) “spurious congressional investigation” into Planned Parenthood, Speier blasted Komen for falling into the trap of a “political sandbox.” “A hearing has never been held,” she noted. “I guess it means that Susan G. Komen has become a 501(d)(4), because no longer do they want to be providing nonprofits, they want to become a political advocacy group,” she said


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