A Democratic senator needs an abortion. She told her colleagues about Arizona’s ‘cruel’ laws.

Arizona’s anti-abortion laws impact women across the Grand Canyon State, and one Democratic state senator spoke out about how those laws have hurt her as she seeks to end an unviable pregnancy, urging GOP lawmakers to consider the harm caused by the restrictive laws they support. 

An emotional Sen. Eva Burch described, in a speech Monday on the Senate floor, the hoops she has had to jump through to secure an abortion, after finding out her pregnancy is not viable. Despite knowing for weeks that her pregnancy is likely to result in a miscarriage, the Democrat from Mesa has not yet received the care she needs. 

“I don’t think people should have to justify their abortions,” she said, her voice shaking. “But I’m choosing to talk about why I made this decision because I want us to have meaningful conversations about the reality of how the work that we do in this body impacts people in the real world.”  

Burch was forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, hear a list of mandated recommendations from her provider — including advice to avail herself of foster care or adoption alternatives, despite the fact that her fetus has no chance of survival — and wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion. All of those requirements are mandated by state laws approved by GOP lawmakers. 



Burch said the legislature shouldn’t be enacting restrictive laws around abortions, because doing so ties the hands of providers and is detrimental to women. She pointed to the state-mandated information her doctor was forced to give her, despite it clearly not applying in her case, as “cruel” proof that the laws are harmful. 

“The only reason I had to hear those things was a cruel and uninformed attempt by outside forces to shame and coerce and frighten me into making a different decision other than the one 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.” 

And while Burch, who is about 8 weeks along in her pregnancy, is still legally able to obtain an abortion, she acknowledged that not all women in Arizona can — and access to the procedure is still in flux. 

The state is currently under a 15-week gestational ban, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Another law forbidding abortions for the sole reason of a genetic fetal abnormality is also still in effect, pending the outcome of an appeal to block it. And the Arizona Supreme Court is weighing whether to reinstate a near-total ban from 1864, that would prohibit all abortions except for those to save the patient’s life and punish doctors who violate that rule with a mandatory 2 to 5 years in prison. 

Burch herself was nearly prevented from accessing reproductive health care two years ago when Arizona was teetering between the 15-week ban and the 1864 law, amid legal uncertainty shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade

At the time, Burch was devastated to learn that a much-wanted pregnancy would result in a miscarriage, requiring an abortion to keep her safe. When she began miscarrying the night before her scheduled abortion, doctors were only willing to give her medication to speed up her miscarriage, hesitant to greenlight an emergency abortion until she was in a critical state. 

The next day, she had an abortion. Just two weeks later, abortion clinics across the state paused services in the aftermath of the high court’s ruling. 

Burch on Monday denounced legislative restrictions on abortions, saying that lawmakers have no place making decisions that should be reserved for women and their medical teams. 

“Doctors and patients should be making those determinations, not legislators who don’t have to suffer through the consequences themselves,” she said.

She added that, if GOP lawmakers are unwilling to respond to the reproductive health care needs of women, she hopes that voters will get a chance later this year. A push to enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution is well on its way to qualifying for the November ballot

“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,” Burch 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. So, I truly hope that Arizonans have the opportunity to weigh in on abortion on the ballot in November.” 

In January, the initiative campaign announced it had gathered more than half of its required signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

Abortion access has taken a front seat in the 2024 election cycle, with Democrats backing it in the hopes of firing up voters. On social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, Gov. Katie Hobbs thanked Burch for sharing her story and called on the legislature to pass laws protecting women’s reproductive health. 

“Reproductive freedom is critical to protecting women’s health,” she wrote. “As more women come forward with their stories, I hope the AZ Legislature will listen & take action to protect our bodily autonomy.” 

Republicans, meanwhile, have largely been unwilling to abandon restrictive stances on reproductive rights issues to avoid alienating conservative voters. 

The political tension between the two parties was on display Monday, with Democrats in the state Senate flanking Burch during her speech and Republican lawmakers largely exiting the chamber floor. 

While it’s not unusual for a few lawmakers to leave floor sessions early, and most on Monday left just before Burch began speaking, most lawmakers generally remain until the session adjourns. 

Several Republicans left during Burch’s comments, she told the Arizona Mirror. Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli was among them: He left as Burch was speaking, returning briefly from the adjacent member’s lounge in an apparent mistake while she was still speaking before quickly exiting again. As soon as she finished speaking, the Republican from Lake Havasu City returned so he could make a motion to adjourn the daily floor session. 

A sole Republican, Prescott Sen. Ken Bennett, remained on the floor while Burch spoke. When she was done, he walked over to her, expressed his sympathy for her situation and gave her a hug.

Comments are closed.