Arizona Bans Premarital Menstruation

Today the U.S. state of Arizona continued its bizarre assault on women’s reproductive health by passing into law a ban on women menstruating before they are “properly married”.

The bill – known as SB 11235 – will make menstruation a crime punishible by up to 1 year in prison unless done with a permit signed by the woman’s husband.

The goal of the new law is to reduce out-of -wedlock births and cut down on what one Republican male lawmaker deemed “harlotry”.

Divitias Deus 

Charles Johnson, a evangelical pastor in Glendale, AZ and president of Arizona Family Values Alliance (AFVA), beleives SB 1123 will change the state for the better:

“Like all bible believing Christians I believe that menstruation is a choice.  God did not intend for single women to bear children, yet these women are running around having premarital sex and choosing to risk bringing a child into this world outside of the holy sacrament of marriage. This bill will put an end to that.”

“They’re just gonna have to get hitched or hold it in like the rest of us.”

Some doctors, however, question the measure’s effectiveness:

“Menstruation is a biological imperative for most female primates of childbearing age, including humans,” explains Carolyn Gladwell, a professor of women’s health at the University of Arizona medical school in Tuscon, “A woman cannot choose to stop menstruating any more than she can choose to stop being gay.”

“If they really cared about reducing unwanted pregnancies they would provide better access to birth control,” adds Gladwell – who is currently interviewing for teaching positions outside of the state.

In fact Arizona has moved in the opposite direction, with its House of Representatives recently proposing a bill to restrict women’s access to contraception by allowing employers to fire women for using birth control.

The Daily Currant caught up with one of that bill’s co-sponsors – who also sponsored the  menstruation legislation –  and asked him what women should do to comply with what opponents are calling the “Just Don’t Bleed” law :

“They’re just gonna have to get hitched or hold it in like the rest of us.”

Darker in the Dessert

Beginning January 1st 2013 all vendors of contraception pills, maxi pads, and PMS remedies such as Midol will be required by law to ask for a marriage licence before these products can be sold.

Most major drug chains have decided to go along with the measure, although some – including Wallgreens – will instead cease selling these products in Arizona altogether.

“We believe all women should have access to these products,” says a Walgreens spokeswoman “We’re either selling them to everybody or not selling them at all.”

Also on January 1st controversial enforcement provisions are set to come into force. Arizona police will thenceforth be required to stop all women drivers of childbearing age for random roadside pelvic exams to ensure compliance with the measure.

And if an employer suspects they might have an unmarried woman menstruating without a permit, the company is required to file a complaint to the new Arizona Office of Public Morality or face having its business licence revoked.

Louise Hernandez, a longtime Arizona resident and professor of women’s studies at Arizona State University in Tempe is personally appalled by the legislation and is considering leaving for good:

“This is a dark a day as I have seen in Arizona,” she says.

LGBT activists, however, are optimistic that the new law might help to advance marriage equality for lesbian couples in the state – which currently bans the practice for same-sex partners. Jane Hyland, a swimming coach in Tuscon explains:

“If the only way for women to comply with the law is to get married, it seems like they’ll have to let us do it.”

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