State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) shared that she was the sole state legislator from Arizona in attendance at the rally outside the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on Wednesday. Inside, the justices held a hearing for a watershed case in abortion law: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Their ruling is anticipated in the spring.
Barto told AZ Free News that the hearing was historic, as was the gathering outside the SCOTUS building advocating for an end to abortion. She said the rally was peaceful, and recounted how diverse their rally was: individuals reportedly represented from all across the political spectrum, the religious and non-religious, and a generational attendance from tikes to older adults such as herself.
“America has lived this lie long enough. Our laws need to be modernized to recognize [the science]: viability is different now, women are not burdened by pregnancy anymore. The greater standard is, of course, that our constitution needs to fit our laws and protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” observed Barto. “We will wait and see and keep praying for these justices to really follow the changing hearts in America, hearts that really have turned. People no longer support abortion through nine months; the more that they learn about what abortion does to women and the unborn in terms of pain, and how the development of an unborn child is trackable from the earliest moments in utero.”
The case brought by Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi abortion clinic challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. On behalf of the defense, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch countered that SCOTUS should leave abortion law to individual states. A SCOTUS ruling in favor of Mississippi would overturn the precedent set by the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationally, Roe v. Wade, which was upheld in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The crux of the plaintiff’s arguments during the hearing concerned the need for SCOTUS to stand by precedent set in previous rulings, discussed as the question of “stare decisis.” They also insisted that the interests of the woman outweighed those of the state, especially prior to the viability of the unborn child.
The plaintiffs also admitted that they were arguing a constitutional right to abortion under the constitutional guarantee of liberty when pressed by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as to what right they were arguing needed protecting. Previous SCOTUS rulings on abortion considered concepts entailing rights under the Constitution and various amendments, such as personhood, undue burdens, and privacy.
Founding Father James Wilson warned of licentiousness, a concept conflated with liberty but truly its antithesis. “Licentious,” or “license,” comes from the Latin term “licentia”: an unbridled, wanton, chaotic freedom. The distinction between liberty and license wasn’t made by anyone in the hearing. Wilson was one of the original SCOTUS justices, serving from the onset of its establishment by the Judiciary Act of 1789 until his death in 1798.
“Liberty and happiness have a powerful enemy on each hand; on the one hand tyranny, on the other licentiousness. To guard against the latter, it is necessary to give the proper powers to government; and to guard against the former, it is necessary that those powers should be properly distributed,” asserted Wilson.
After the hearing, Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ-06) shared one of his floor statements from earlier this year describing how his life was saved when his birth mother chose life over abortion and gave him up for adoption.
“I was born in an unwed mother’s home – so was my brother, so was my sister. You’ve all met my little girl that came to us as a gift out of nowhere. But I’m 38 years old [at the time] and through a series of accidents, I get the phone number for my birth mother – and I call her. And the first words were just through the tears and this high-pitch almost – she was struggling, you could hear her almost hyperventilating – is: ‘I prayed for you every morning. Are you okay? Are you healthy, are you happy?’ And I’m crying on my side, saying, ‘I have a great life. Thank you for letting me live.’ […] My little girl’s third generation adopted, now. […] And we will get together with our birth moms and our moms. The amazing thing is my mom became best of friends with my birth mom. This is the American family of today – let’s love it and respect it.”
A controversial pro-life bill passed out of both the House and Senate on Thursday along party lines. SB 1457, which had previously passed out of the full House and Senate along party lines, but failed to pass the final Senate vote now heads to the governor’s desk.
The vote came just days after a federal appeals court upheld a similar law in Ohio, providing more evidence of constitutionality for the prohibition of abortion based on a genetic condition like Down syndrome, according to the Center for Arizona Policy.
Supporters say SB 1457, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto, is a “commonsense bill that prohibits abortion based on the diagnosis of a genetic abnormality, except for those with a lethal fetal condition.” Opponents say the bill is an assault on women’s reproductive rights and “ignores the complexities of high-risk pregnancies.”
The bill also repeals a pre-Roe law that punishes women who have abortions, and it establishes Arizona laws will be interpreted in the context of valuing all human life. It also prohibits public institutions from performing abortions or experimenting with aborted human remains.
Wednesday, the House passed a bill requiring schools to have parents’ written consent before teaching Sex Education to students. Rather than having parents opt their children out of Sex Ed curriculum, this legislation requires schools to have parents opt in their children.
The bill passed along party lines, with only one Democratic representative abstaining their vote: State Representative Denise “Mitzi” Epstein (D-Tempe).
Summarily, the bill prohibits schools from providing Sex Ed to any students below the fifth grade – including education on AIDS and HIV. It would also require schools to make all Sex Ed curriculum available for parental review two weeks in advance, at minimum.
Under the bill, schools may or may not choose to implement a Sex Ed curriculum. If they do, the bill would simply require them to prioritize parental consent and communication, and those schools would have the option for state-level health or education officials to review the materials. It would also require that AIDS and HIV education be grade-level appropriate, promote abstinence, discourage drug use, and dispel myths of HIV transmission.
The legislation also requires that all committee meetings to develop, adopt, revise, or update Sex Ed courses be open to the public. Additionally, all materials must be made available and two public hearings must occur at least 60 days prior to any approval of materials.
Both Arizona House and Senate Democrats tweeted against the passage of the bill.
“This bill is a huge step back from the progress Arizona made in 2019 when we removed barriers for LGBTQ+ representation in schools. This bill makes all HIV/AIDS instruction opt-in, labeling this important education as taboo & only available via a permission slip,” wrote the Arizona Senate Democrats.
This bill is a huge step back from the progress Arizona made in 2019 when we removed barriers for LGBTQ+ representation in schools. This bill makes all HIV/AIDS instruction opt-in, labeling this important education as taboo & only available via permission slip
Neither the House or Senate GOP or the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), published remarks on social media regarding the passage of this bill. Barto did tell reporters in an emailed statement that this served as a victory for parents’ rights.
“Parents should not have to worry about what schools are teaching their children about human sexuality,” stated Barto. “Too often parents learn after the fact that explicit or controversial materials were presented without their knowledge or consent.”
As AZ Free News reported previously, the Senate passed the bill early last month. Testimonies presented during committee hearings relayed a variety of issues. These included schools telling children that sex education classes are mandatory, refusing to share curriculum materials with parents, or circumventing parental notification on certain materials like “Genderbread.”
The legislation will now heads to Governor Doug Ducey. If signed into law as written, schools would have until December 15 of this year to comply.
The Arizona School Board Association condemned the bill’s passage as an effort to “undermine the authority of school boards. However, nothing in the bill prohibits school boards from approving curriculum. It merely sets a grade-level requirement and provides parents with an opportunity to exercise their authority over their own children.
ASBA opposes SB1456 as a tremendous overreach into the school board’s authority to establish curriculum it deems appropriate for the school community and urges Gov. Ducey to veto this bill. Read our full statement below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/VCOCNX90Fh