Data shows LGBTQ+ Arizonans are more at risk with upcoming abortion ban

More than a third of trans people who got pregnant considered unsafe abortion methods, while bisexuals and lesbians experience unwanted pregnancies at higher rates.

Data shows LGBTQ+ Arizonans are more at risk with upcoming abortion ban
A protester holding a sign at a rally. LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately effected by abortion bans compared to their straight peers. (Photo by Emma Guliani/Pexels)

The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate a 160-year-old territorial law is expected to have dramatic consequences on the state’s LGBTQ+ community, specifically lesbian and bisexual women, as well as transgender people, according to recent research.

Data from 2022 released by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, reported that queer people are more likely to need abortion care since they have higher rates of unintended pregnancy compared to heterosexual women.

Citing statistics from the federal 2017-2019 National Survey for Family Growth, the report said 22.8% of lesbian women and 27.2% of bisexual women reported needing an abortion. That is in comparison to 15.4% of exclusively heterosexual women who needed to terminate a pregnancy. 

The survey was conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Surveyors said elevated rates of forced sexual encounters, sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence among lesbian and bisexual women were factors influencing unintended pregnancies. 

The survey also found that 36% of the pregnant transgender individuals surveyed considered an abortion without help from a doctor; one-fifth of those people followed through with an attempt to do so.

“That is concerning to me, as a pansexual person,” said Ariz. Rep. Analise Ortiz (D. -Phoenix). “We need to make sure that all people have access to the reproductive healthcare they need, including abortion and contraceptives.”

Ortiz said it has become “problematic” that abortion has been framed as a straight and cisgender women’s issue for so long: “It erases the fact that trans and non-binary people need access to abortion care. When we don’t think of that, it leaves the potential for them to be left out, not just about messaging but about education on care,” Ortiz said.

UCLA’s School of Law Williams Institute found that poverty, experienced at higher rates among the LGBTQ+ community than the heterosexual white community, is one significant barrier to contraceptive access, which is an influencer of unintended pregnancies.

Julie Gunnigle, a Phoenix attorney who twice ran for the office of Maricopa County Attorney, said that while campaigning she saw how the issue of reproductive freedom and abortion access resonated with constituents within the LGBTQ+ community. She said she hoped the justices would find a way to harmonize the law.

“There are subsets under the LGBTQ+ banner who are disproportionately affected by abortion bans,” she said. “My concern with rulings like this are more about the global issues of bodily autonomy. Every time I think about how Arizona approaches an abortion ban, it’s identical to the trans legislation we’ve seen. If you don’t have sovereignty over your own body, then you’re not truly free.”

Gunnigle also pointed to the ambiguity of the statute, saying it’s broad enough that a rogue county attorney could prosecute someone who provides transportation or payment for an abortion, and even prosecute an abortion-seeker as her own accomplice. 

The statute, as written, does not require attorneys to prosecute people seeking an abortion—only doctors who perform the medical practice. 

Ortiz is wary that the domino effect of the statute could extend restrictions to in-vitro fertilization procedures, gender-affirming care and same-sex partnerships. 

“It’s terrifying. This is all part of the same far-right, extremist Christian nationalist movement. We can’t separate these issues because the right is not separating these issues,” Ortiz said. “Republicans had not one, but two opportunities to repeal the 1864 abortion ban to save lives and mitigate the terror that people who can become pregnant are feeling right now. They refused to do so.”

While the state legislature had scheduled a recess from April 11th until April 17th, Republican leaders adjourned the final working session earlier than expected on April 10th amidst the chaos that erupted between lawmakers trying to repeal the ban and Republicans who were unwilling to discuss it.

“That really shows that Republicans are not serious about repealing this ban,”Ortiz said. 

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to LOOKOUT .

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.

LOOKOUT Publications is a federally recognized nonprofit news outlet. EIN Number:92-3129757