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!
Sheri Van Horsen has experience in a variety of government service positions. A candidate for the State House of Representatives in previous years, Van Horsen now seeks to represent the newly drawn Legislative District 21 — which includes the areas of El Mirage, Sun City, and Peoria — in part to help combat the legislature’s recent war on reproductive rights, women, and health care. In addition to her endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, she has been endorsed by the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus.
Van Horsen took the time for an interview with us on September 23, 2012.
“A fundamental right in this country is the freedom to make our own health care choices and to be secure in the ownership of our own bodies.”
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have a background in law and have worked as deputy director of constituent services for Gov. Janet Napolitano. I previously served as an executive administrative assistant to the chief of staff for the attorney general’s office; director of constituent services, attorney general’s office; special projects coordinator for [the] Anti-Meth Task Force; Consumer Protection Task Force; community groups; ethnic group committees; Homeland Security Task Force; special paralegal – criminal division – voter fraud unit, white collar crimes and severance unit, attorney general’s office.
I am married to Michael Tarrats, and we share two beautiful daughters. We are dedicated to working hard for a better life for our children, and we share a passion for community service, advocating for workers’ rights, and holding politicians accountable for their actions. We have four dogs, two cats, and a house full of love.
Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care choices? What role do you feel the government should play in legislating and facilitating health care services, especially family planning services?
It is a fundamental right afforded to all Arizonans that we decide what is best for ourselves and our families. All of our situations are unique and as individuals, we are in the best position to decide what is best for ourselves and our families. Government need only ensure that Arizonans are receiving quality care from licensed professionals and that facilities are safe and operating at or above industry standards.
One of your Republican opponents, Debbie Lesko, introduced legislation that would allow more employers to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to their employees, as well as legislation that disqualified Planned Parenthood as an organization eligible to receive “working poor” tax credits from individuals who choose to donate money this way. In a recent debate, you remarked, “Debbie Lesko’s legislation puts government in our bedrooms.” Can you expand on the impact both of these pieces of legislation will have on Arizona residents?
I believe Ms. Lesko actually has no idea how damaging her legislation is, and would do anything to please the political forces that fund her campaigns. Her explanation that she was protecting someone’s religious freedom is ridiculous, and, in my opinion, unconstitutional. She is incapable of seeing the big picture as a lawmaker; we cannot and must not violate the constitutional rights of the many in order to expand one constitutional right of the few. Her thinking is flawed and her legislation would leave many Arizonans without safe, affordable access to care.
Like Lesko, your other opponent Rick Gray voted to ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks (HB2036), to remove funding from Planned Parenthood (HB2800), to protect doctors from fully informing women about prenatal issues if they believe it may lead to abortion (SB1359), and to require public school instructional programs to promote childbirth and adoption as preferred alternatives to abortion (SB1009). What do you believe these candidates’ voting records say about their priorities when it comes to women’s health?
They could not care less about the damages they cause to real people, families, and the community at large. Their legislation is careless and has real consequences to Arizona families. In a time where Arizona needs real solutions to the real challenges facing our state, they choose instead to impose their personal will on all Arizonans.
As mentioned, in the previous legislative session, there were a number of bad bills that will negatively affect meaningful access to a variety of reproductive health services. What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?
An expansion of access to basic medical services and preventive care for Arizonans who work hard for living, but yet cannot afford basic health care and reproductive care. I would oppose any legislation that would limit access to care and oppose any legislation that would make it harder for Arizonans to utilize of the services of Planned Parenthood and other organizations.
At the same time, there were a number of potentially beneficial bills introduced — such as one that would require health care professionals to make emergency contraception available to rape survivors (HB2331) and another that would require Arizona schools to provide provide medically accurate, comprehensive sex education in grades 7-12 (HB2616) — on which no action was taken. Would you work to further legislation such as this, and if so, how would you do it?
Yes, I would work incredibly hard to pass this kind of common-sense, compassionate legislation, which furthers an individual’s right to emergency contraception. We must not be a deterrent to a rape survivor’s healing process, and we must do everything we can to ensure that our kids are well educated and prepared to make informed decisions.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Because the reason I decided to run was the legislation we are discussing here. Not only as a woman, but as a daughter, a mother, and a wife, I could not sit by and watch dimwitted individuals violate our rights, invade our privacy, and attempt to regulate our own personal health care decisions. A fundamental right in this country is the freedom to make our own health care choices and to be secure in the ownership of our own bodies. The last thing we need is politicians attempting to regulate a woman’s body and violate her rights under the Constitution, all in the name of their own personal ideology.
If you’d like more information on Sheri Van Horsen’s candidacy, you can check out her campaign website.
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.