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AZ Dem lawmakers pushing to protect contraception rights

Bill to enshrine rights into AZ law did not get hearing or vote
State Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton and State Senator Priya Sundareshan sat down exclusively with KGUN this week to discuss contraception rights.
Posted at 3:32 PM, Jun 07, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — State Senator Priya Sundareshan and State Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton sat down exclusively with KGUN 9 this week to discuss the issue of contraception rights. They are Democrats representing Arizona’s 18th and 21st legislative districts in Southern Arizona.

In January, they introduced a bill that would have enshrined the right to contraception in Arizona law, an effort that started in 2022.

“Roe vs. Wade was a longstanding Supreme Court decision that had protected this right [to abortion] for decades,” said Sundareshan. “And it suddenly got overturned… Justice [Clarence] Thomas in his concurring opinion said, ‘let’s go ahead and revisit a whole number of other rights that had been long-protected’.”

That includes the landmark Griswold v. Connecticut case, decided 59 years ago Friday, which protects the right to contraception.

But in March, the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature blocked a vote on the bill, saying the Democrats did not follow proper procedure.

“This Republican majority in Arizona does not hear Democratic bills,” said Sundareshan. “This issue has broad support across the spectrum of the population. It’s really unfortunate that this bill had to suffer that same fate. It never got a hearing, it never got time in front of the committee, which meant it wasn’t going to move forward.”

The Democrats specifically took issue with Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli.

“One of the comments that Senator Borrelli made was, ‘We don’t need to protect the right to contraception, all a person does is need to hold an aspirin between their knees,’” Sundareshan recalled. “It kind of dismisses the whole idea that we need any rights protected, which is particularly egregious, when in some of these cases, we need access to these [contraceptives] in order to protect people who have been victims of assault.”

They also point to contraceptives being crucial for family planning and other health benefits.

But just this week, Republicans in Congress blocked a bill to protect contraception rights at the federal level.

Republicans have denied contraception access is in any danger, calling this narrative a political stunt by the Democrats.

Last month, former President Donald Trump said in a TV interview he was “looking at” potential contraception restrictions and that his campaign would release a policy, before saying on his social media platform Truth Social that he “will never advocate” for those restrictions.

Still, the Tucson Democrats say re-electing Joe Biden is the only way to protect contraception rights.

“Who we put in office, who we choose as our lawmakers, matters,” said Stahl Hamilton. “It really is critical who we choose to make our laws. Very bottom of the ballot, local and close to home as possible, all the way to the top and the leader of this nation.”

“These are rights at risk,” said Sundareshan.

KGUN 9 reached out to Majority Leader Borrelli but has not received a response as of Friday afternoon.

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Ryan Fish is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9 and comes to the Sonoran Desert from California’s Central Coast after working as a reporter, sports anchor and weather forecaster in Santa Barbara. Ryan grew up in the Chicago suburbs, frequently visiting family in Tucson. Share your story ideas and important issues with Ryan by emailing ryan.fish@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.