PHOENIX (EWTN News) — Catholic backers of new Arizona abortion regulations are happy that Planned Parenthood of Arizona is no longer offering abortions at seven of its 10 locations after new laws were passed.
“We are very blessed to hear this news in Arizona,” said Ron Johnson, director of the Arizona Catholic Conference. “For once, we applaud Planned Parenthood for something they’ve done.”
Planned Parenthood has ceased abortions in Yuma, Flagstaff, Prescott Valley, Goodyear, Chandler, Phoenix and one Tucson location, the Arizona Daily Star reports.
The new requirements will allow “lots of important things to happen,” Johnson told EWTN News Aug. 19. However, he noted that Planned Parenthood still has until mid-September to appeal the informed-consent laws on abortion.
Arizona rules for abortion businesses now include a 24-hour waiting period on abortions, mandatory face-to-face doctor meetings for a woman one day before the possible abortion takes place, and a requirement that only a doctor may perform surgical abortions.
Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood in Arizona, said that the requirements passed in 2009 and 2011 leave only six full- and part-time doctors to handle what he said was nearly 100,000 abortions a year. The required face-to-face meetings increased their workload.
The affected Planned Parenthood locations will remain open for other services, including family planning.
Johnson attributed the closure to a lack of doctors who want to “get involved with such a gruesome procedure that takes innocent human life.”
One Arizona law requires the doctor to be present at all times during an abortion.
Before the new legislation was passed, Planned Parenthood had nurse practitioners perform not only chemical abortions but surgical ones as well.
“Most of us were shocked,” Johnson said. “They have a hard time paying for doctors and, certainly, an even harder time finding them. So they find these nurse practitioners.
“That’s a big reason, we believe, that’s really what’s behind Planned Parenthood not doing abortions at these facilities anymore. They just don’t want to do what it takes. They’re not concerned with women’s health and safety or making sure a doctor is there. It just costs too much for them.”
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said Planned Parenthood was making a “business decision” in ending the abortions.
“They will end their services rather than raising the standard of care to meet the law’s requirement,” she told the Arizona Daily Star. “All Planned Parenthood had to do was to find doctors to work at their clinics to continue providing the abortion services.”
Johnson added that the informed-consent law provides women with “important information that they need to know before they have an abortion.”
One motive for the informed-consent law is “a recognition that many, many women are coerced into having abortions,” he explained. “That’s why it’s important the 24-hour waiting period is there.”
The waiting period also allows time for women to reflect and to learn of other services, agencies and people who will help them whether they decide to keep their babies or give them up for adoption.
“We know that’s going to help save lives,” he said.
Opponents of the laws have said they are intended to be unnecessarily burdensome and are intended to shut down abortion businesses.
Johnson said that the Catholic Church is “very much opposed to abortion,” and Catholics played a “very integral” role in passing the legislation.
However, he described the regulations as “commonsense laws” that even people who disagree on abortion can agree about.
“They provide better information to women, to parents and to minors. They also respect the free will of health-care providers not to be coerced into performing abortions,” he said. “All of these things were extremely modest protections.”
Howard contended that Planned Parenthood could no longer find doctors, citing the “risk of protest” from abortion opponents and state law against teaching abortion at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Protesters in Flagstaff have demonstrated in the driveway of a nurse practitioner who performs nonsurgical abortions, he noted.
Herrod said that there have been no protests outside of an Arizona doctor’s house in years. She denied that training is the issue.
“It’s an issue of doctors not being willing to participate in a procedure that hurts women and takes the lives of preborn children,” she said.
Johnson advised those who want to pass similar laws in other states to have perseverance and not give up.
“We’ve been very blessed with some good laws in recent years; we’ve added to that as well,” he told EWTN News. “It all came after a decade worth of trying — and also battles in the courts, which are still going on but are hopefully nearing an end.”
“Be practical in what you can do. The most important thing anybody can do is pray, of course.”
While the Catholic Church cannot become involved in electoral politics, he said, the laity “should definitely get involved.”