Yesterday, the Arizona House passed an omni-bus anti-choice law that included a ban on abortion past 20 weeks. These 20 week bans are all the rage now in anti-choice legislating, and proposals for 20 week bans have been popping up all over the country in the last few years. The fact that this most recent ban passed in Arizona, however, hit a nerve.
As you probably know, Arizona has one of the harshest anti-immigrant laws in the nation. And laws that criminalize immigrants and create harsh enforcement procedures do damage on a lot of fronts: they split families, they cost a lot of money. But anti-immigrant sentiment also has an effect on health. It is laws like these and the sentiment behind them that put up barriers to health care access for immigrants. Many immigrants, even some with legal documentation, cannot access public health care programs like Medicaid even if otherwise eligible; others who have found places where they could access health care that is affordable avoid going for fear that accessing this care will alert immigration authorities, or because the authorities have set up shop and are waiting outside the clinic (a practice our activists have witnessed and told us about). And abortion is health care.
You see, there are many barriers to obtaining safe, legal abortion services, and access to health care is a huge issue for immigrant women. Barriers to health care add time: time to gather up the money for the procedure, time to travel to a location where there is a provider, waiting periods, ultrasound appointments…it all adds up. For immigrant women in states like Arizona, who face many barriers in obtaining health care and abortion services, it takes time to get all the ducks in a row to get the services they need, and this ban will impact them the hardest. An abortion is not cheap, and it only gets more expensive as the weeks keep moving along; a woman may have gathered what she thinks is enough money for a procedure only to find that the price has gone up, meaning she will need more time – during which the procedure just gets more expensive.
It’s important to look at all of these systems together, for they paint a picture of who will be most affected. As usual, it is low-income women and immigrant women.