The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!
Michael Powell is a candidate for state senator for Legislative District 20, which is located in Maricopa County and covers parts of Phoenix and Glendale. Powell has contributed to civic life in Phoenix’s West Valley for many years. While he was with the City of Avondale, he worked on dozens of successful grant proposals to develop and improve the city, and for the last 12 years he has been an instructor at Estrella Mountain Community College, teaching classes in leadership, economics, and the U.S. Constitution. His spouse of seven years, Patricia, is a registered nurse and medical case manager.
“Health care is a matter of personal privacy.”
Because of his positions on women’s health and choice issues, Powell has received an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. He generously took the time for an interview with PPAA on September 13, 2012.
Tell us a little about your background and how you feel it would inform your decisions as a member of the Arizona Senate.
First, I am an educator and workplace performance improvement professional. This background helps me study and communicate complex issues with a clarity that most people can understand.
Second, when I was younger I was in need of health services and had no insurance. I was fortunate to have Planned Parenthood health services available and found the staff helpful and thorough when discussing my options.
Third, I am not dogmatic in my views and do not seek to impose a singular worldview on others. As a man, I do not believe I have the right to dictate the type of health care women should receive. I do not have the right to dictate the type of birth control women use. I especially do not have the right to interfere with choices made between women in consultation with their professionally certified doctors.
In the previous legislative session, there were a lot of bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB2625), funding for family planning (HB2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools (SB1009). What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?
The woman’s right to choose is a legal right provided by the U.S. Supreme Court’s various decisions as it relates to health care and abortion services. Physicians should not fear from physical retaliation when performing legal medical services. Prosecution of terrorists that seek to destroy a doctor’s practice should be fully prosecuted and I am willing to introduce legislation that does that.
I oppose abstinence-only sexual education programs to high school students. I believe in the power of having comprehensive knowledge given so young people can make wise decisions about sexual activity. I am willing to sponsor any legislation that makes our kids smarter, especially about issues such as sexual responsibility, responsible parenting, and the consequences of one’s actions.
Finally, I will vote against any discriminatory actions the legislature attempts against organizations that provide legal, safe health services for their clients just because members of the legislature object to some of the services. Preventing health care entities from operating in this state when the need and demand for health care services is great makes no sense.
Your Republican opponent in the race, Kimberly Yee, has voted for all of Arizona’s recent anti-abortion bills. She also sponsored HB2036, which threatens doctors with criminal penalties for performing abortions after 20 weeks. What damage do you feel these bills have done, and how optimistic are you about seeing that damage reversed?
The legislation that functionally states that human life begins two weeks before conception will eventually go to the U.S. Supreme Court as the test case to determine the limits to a woman’s right to choose and the ability to make private health care decisions with her doctor. This legislation also threatens the legal use of a wide range of birth control and contraceptive methods currently prescribed or purchased over the counter due to the functional timeline. This bill virtually eliminates choice throughout the reproductive cycle and will throw us back to the days when both abortions and birth control were illegal.
Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care choices?
Health care is a matter of personal privacy. Only you, in consultation with your doctor and other health care providers, can really know what is needed for your health care.
Why do you support comprehensive sex education in our schools?
Studies have shown that the more teenagers are sexually educated, the less likely they will become teen fathers and teen mothers.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
The wide range of preventive health care services offered by Planned Parenthood, the economic support they provide through low-cost health services to members of the community who are not fortunate to have insurance-sponsored health care, and the support they provide women and men to live thoughtfully considered lives when it comes to choosing when and how to raise families are important contributions that benefit the entire community. I appreciate the work accomplished and welcome the partnership through their endorsement to provide needed preventive health care services within the community.
With all the redistricting that’s taken place this year, you might not even know what legislative district you’re in — but you can click here to find out! And, regardless of which legislative district in Arizona you live in, you can contact us if you’d like to volunteer for an endorsed candidate in your legislative district.