Arizona Senator Shares She’s Having a 2nd Abortion in Unprecedented Floor Speech

State Sen. Eva Burch (D), a nurse practitioner at a women’s health clinic, revealed that she’s long struggled with miscarriages and fertility challenges and is currently carrying a nonviable pregnancy.

Arizona Senator Shares She’s Having a 2nd Abortion in Unprecedented Floor Speech

On Monday evening, Arizona state Sen. Eva Burch (D) addressed her colleagues on the Senate floor and revealed that she’s carrying a nonviable pregnancy and will have an emergency abortion. (Arizona lawmakers are allowed a “point of privilege” and can share personal testimony on the floor.) Burch, who’s also worked as a nurse practitioner at a reproductive health clinic for 12 years, used hers to offer powerful remarks on abortion while serving in a state that bans the procedure at 15 weeks.

In her speech, Burch recounted years of fertility struggles, including several miscarriages and, just weeks before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a nonviable, wanted pregnancy that required her to get an abortion. Burch, who has two sons, said she and her husband learned just a couple of weeks ago that she’s currently pregnant, and learned a few days ago that this pregnancy also isn’t viable.

“We have determined that my pregnancy is once again not progressing and is not viable, and once again I have scheduled an appointment to terminate my pregnancy,” Burch said, with several of her female colleagues standing behind her in support as she spoke. “I don’t think people should have to justify their abortions. But I’m choosing to talk about why I made this decision because I want us to be able to have meaningful conversations about the reality of how the work that we do in this body impacts people in the real world.”

“I don’t know how many of you have been unfortunate enough to experience a miscarriage before, but I am not interested in going through it unnecessarily. Right now, the safest and most appropriate treatment for me—and the treatment that I choose—is abortion,” Burch said. “But the laws this legislature has passed has interfered with my ability to do that.” Burch testified that as part of the process to seek abortion care, she’s been forced to receive state-mandated, inaccurate counseling from her health care provider—including that she can adopt or parent, which she can’t because the pregnancy isn’t viable. “From where I sat, the only reason I had to hear those things was a cruel and really uninformed attempt by outside forces to shame and coerce and frighten me into making a different decision other than the one that I knew was right for me,” Burch 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.”

Burch, who also serves as Senate Democratic Caucus Whip, isn’t sharing when she’ll be having her abortion for her safety, she told CNN’s Abby Philip on Monday. “This is a really sensitive time for me and my family,” Burch said, noting she made the decision to speak about it publicly “because it’s so relevant to what’s happening—across the country, yes, but in Arizona specifically.” As a nurse practitioner at a reproductive health clinic, Burch said she’s served “patients who were past 15 weeks, who I believe and they believe that abortion was the right decision for them.” 

“This is not the first time I’ve had a pregnancy that failed, and as a medical provider, I know what I’m up against. As a legislator, I know what I’m facing,” Burch said. But she expressed frustration with how difficult the medical landscape is to navigate for people who aren’t in her position, pointing, again, to state laws that require health care providers to “counsel” patients on their options other than abortion—even when, as in her case, there are none. 

“For patients who are coming in for the first time who are not expecting the situation that they’re about to walk into, it’s very difficult to have a medical provider tell me that I can consider adoption, I can consider parenting, when those are not realistic options for me,” Burch explained on CNN. “I have no option to parent, I have no option, for this is not a viable pregnancy, but they are required to say things that are absolutely false… it’s really unconscionable and we can and should do better.”

Ultimately, Burch told Philip, after years of fertility struggles, she and her husband are no longer trying to build their family. Her abortion procedure is “coming soon,” she said, because “I am deliberately trying to move forward with this so that I can move forward with my life. We tried for a very long time to have a baby and we have decided that we are not going to try to do that anymore, and I’m really just ready for what’s next.”

Pregnancy and fertility have always been daunting in their own right, especially in a culture that stigmatizes infertility and has always stigmatized abortion. Burch’s experience highlights how abortion bans and the fear and confusion they instill have only made all of this worse and more dangerous. Her decision to share her story reminds us that people experiencing pregnancy complications and in need of abortion care aren’t nameless, faceless strangers, but can literally include the elected officials representing us.

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