Arizona Democrat delivers speech on obstacles to getting abortion for her unviable pregnancy

Mar 19, 2024, 2:00 PM

A screenshot of Arizona state Sen. Eva Burch speaking on the Senate floor....

During a March 18, 2024, to the Arizona Senate on Monday, March 18, in Phoenix, Democratic Sen. Eva Burch discussed the obstacles she is facing to getting an abortion for an unviable pregnancy. (Arizona Legislature Screenshot)

(Arizona Legislature Screenshot)

PHOENIX – An Arizona Democratic lawmaker took to the Senate floor Monday to criticize the state’s abortion laws, sharing her own ongoing experience to demonstrate the real-world impact of the Legislature’s actions.

“I don’t think people should have to justify their abortions, but I’m choosing to talk about why I made this decision because I want us to be able to have meaningful conversations about the reality of how the work that we do in this body impacts people in the real world,” Sen. Eva Burch said during her speech.

The District 9 lawmaker, who has experience as an emergency room nurse and a nurse practitioner in a woman’s health clinic, recounted her previous fertility issues. She said that although she is a mother of two healthy boys, she’s had multiple pregnancies that weren’t carried to term.

Why did Eva Burch discuss unviable pregnancy during Senate speech?

Burch recently found out she was pregnant again, but ultrasounds and blood draws confirmed that the pregnancy isn’t viable. As a result, she decided that an abortion would be the “safest and most appropriate treatment.” However, state regulations are impeding her ability to get the procedure.

“I want to explain what I mean and why I’m still pregnant as I address all of you today despite having known about the unavoidable demise of my pregnancy and despite having been to the abortion clinic on Friday, where they were equipped and prepared to perform my abortion,” she said.

What obstacles did Arizona lawmaker face while seeking abortion?

Burch said she was first required to undergo an unneeded ultrasound, as required under state law by all patients seeking abortions.

“I didn’t have an ultrasound because my doctor thought I needed one. I had one because legislation has forced me to do that, an invasive transvaginal ultrasound that I didn’t want or need to have performed by someone who didn’t want to have to do it,” she said.

Burch also explained that her medical provider was forced to provide “transparently factually false” information that wasn’t relevant to her situation in order to comply with state laws.

“From where I sat, the only reason I had to hear those things was in a cruel and really uninformed attempt by outside forces to shame and coerce and frighten me into making a different decision other than the one that I knew was right for me,” she said.

“There’s no one size fits all script for people seeking abortion care, and the Legislature doesn’t have any right to assign one.”

After all that, Burch was forced to wait at least 24 hours to have the procedure because of state laws.

“A waiting period is often totally inappropriate and potentially dangerous,” she said. “Doctors and patients should be making those determinations, not legislators who don’t have to suffer through the consequences themselves.”

Burch said she is fortunate to have the resources and ability to take time off to deal with the situation.

“But I call on this legislative body to pass laws that make sure every Arizonan has the opportunity to make decisions that are right for them,” she said. “Our decision-making should be grounded in expert testimony and in consensus from both the medical community and from constituents, and free from political posturing and partisan bias, but that’s not what I see happening.”

What was response to Eva Burch sharing abortion story?

Burch’s speech drew plenty of attention, both statewide and nationally.

Gov. Katie Hobbs thanked her fellow Democrat for sharing the story.

“I know the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a difficult one, no matter the reason. Your courage is a reminder of why the stigmatization of this process is so harmful. My thoughts are with you and your family during this time,” Hobbs said in a social media post.

CNN interviewed Burch about her experience. She told the cable channel her pregnancy is still within the 15-week timeframe for a legal abortion in Arizona, and she will have the procedure soon.

Burch said she wanted to share what she is going through because “it’s so relevant to what’s happening across the country.”

“I think that when people are able to come forward and tell their stories and share what they’re experiencing, that it really humanizes it for people and brings it to the forefront in a more meaningful way,” she said. “And I think that it helps people to understand and to bring people to the table who maybe normally don’t want to have those types of difficult conversations.”

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Arizona Democrat delivers speech on obstacles to getting abortion for her unviable pregnancy