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Bill opens door for harassment of patients and providers

PHOENIX -- Today, Arizona House passed HB 2284 to add language to a statute that broadens the terms for which an unannounced inspection can occur at an abortion provider and by whom.

The main provision of House Bill 2284 will impose privacy issues for women seeking abortion care, and those providing care, by permitting warrantless searches and inspections of abortion-providing health centers.

Currently, ADHS is able to do immediate, unannounced inspections in the event there is evidence of health and safety risks, by obtaining an administrative warrant. There is no evidence that the current regulatory system is failing, and ADHS did not request this legislation.

This bill is most concerning because over the last three year there have been a barrage of aggressive bills that target women and reproductive health care. These bills come from out-of-touch lobbying groups and are introduced by extreme legislators. The environment and discussion around women’s health issues make the concern around harassment relevant.  

Statement from Bryan Howard, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona

“As an organization, we support bills that truly protect patient safety, our patients are our number one priority, but House Bill 2284 does nothing but open the door to provider and patient harassment. This is yet another law that is in search of a problem rather than a positive solution.”

ADHS already has the ability to do immediate, and unannounced inspections in the event there is evidence regarding health or safety risks; ADHS did not request this legislation.”

HB 2284 reveals a larger pattern in which well-funded interest groups with narrow social agendas influence legislators to pass unconstitutional laws that damage our state’s reputation and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Destructive patterns from these extremist groups are reckless and are hurting Arizona, as seen in the recent Arizona State Legislature’s approval of SB 1062.”

In the community for 78 years, Planned Parenthood Arizona is the leading sexual health organization in Arizona. The organization provides health care, education and outreach services to more than 90,000 men, women, teens and parents annually. Planned Parenthood Arizona operates health center locations statewide in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and Yuma. For more information, please visit www.ppaz.org.

In  2004, Tucson V. Gerard (originally, Eden) the 9th Circuit found a provision that allowed warrantless searches of abortion providers to be unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. 

That case was litigated for 10 years, and the taxpayers of Arizona wound up reimbursing the Center for Reproductive Health $250,000 in attorney’s fees and court costs.

Proponents of this bill argue that abortion is now a “closely regulated industry.” But the Gerard decision refuted this notion explicitly, noting that the theory behind the closely regulated industries exception is that people engaged in those industries have a diminished expectation of privacy. 

The court stated that the closely regulated industry exception clearly does not apply to abortion clinics, where the expectation of privacy is heightened, given that abortion is a constitutionally protected right.

Last May, The Arizona Department of Health Services provided a report regarding licensing and inspection of abortion providers in the state of Arizona. The report shows the department’s comprehensive inspection and licensing history of such providers. You can find a full copy of the report here: http://www.azdhs.gov/als/medical/documents/abortion-record-request-reponse.pdf

Michelle Frost, 480.894.2583
[email protected]