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Tucson lawmaker pushes for Reproductive Rights Awareness Week

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PHOENIX – Recent laws restricting access to abortion amount to an “attack on women” by the state Legislature, a Democratic lawmaker said Monday as she pressed for a resolution declaring Reproductive Rights Awareness Week in Arizona.

“We hope those out there who feel isolated know they’re not alone,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson. “There are legislators who support women’s rights.”

Lopez, Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, and Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, D-Tucson, joined activists at a news conference timed with the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.

Lopez, who is chairwoman of the board for the Center for Women Policy Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy group, said Arizona’s laws on abortion show that many lawmakers are out of touch.

Two of the laws that took effect last year make it illegal for nurse practitioners to perform abortions and for state money to support groups that provide or give referrals for abortions. Another requires doctors to provide ultrasounds before abortions.

Among bills on the group’s radar this session is HB 2487, authored by Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix, which sets out to define abortion as both surgical and non-surgical procedures, such as those induced by medicine.

“This is just another attack to undermine women’s ability to make decisions concerning their own bodies,” Lopez said.

The push to create Reproductive Rights Awareness Week through SR 1002 is similar to others in states around the country. It has 10 primary sponsors and eight co-sponsors, all of them Democrats.

Organizers said they don’t expect the resolution to pass but hope it calls attention to a national online effort called Trust Women Week, which is billed as an online march for reproductive rights.

Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy, said in an interview that the Legislature’s action “gives women the option of making informed decisions” about their reproductive health and promotes safety.

A call to the Senate Republican majority was returned by Linda Gray, R-Glendale, who said Senate Republicans are standing up for the rights of the unborn.

“I believe in the sanctity of life, for babies’ rights. Who is standing up for them?” Gray said.