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!
[P]at Fleming has lived in Arizona for four decades, with roots going back to Missouri, where she was born near her grandparents’ farm. Her military ties brought her to Sierra Vista, where she continues to live — and seeks to serve.
“A licensed pharmacist is licensed to dispense prescriptions, not determine morality.”
Fleming supports access to preventive health care and education. “Protecting women’s access to contraception is critical,” she has stated. Elaborating upon her positions in an exclusive interview with us, she indicated support for comprehensive sex education because of its role in the “prevention of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.” As a member of the state Senate, Fleming will stand for commonsense values such as comprehensive sex education, health care access, and family planning. She will also represent the needs of her rural constituents, whose access to health care is limited.
Fleming is seeking office in the newly drawn Legislative District 14, which stretches from east Pima County into rural areas of the state, including Cochise and Greenlee counties, as well as most of Graham County. She generously took time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on October 1, 2012.
Tell us a little about your background.
I have been proud to call southeastern Arizona home for 43 years. After retiring from Ft. Huachuca in 2005, I ran my first campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives from LD 25, losing by only 764 votes. In 2008, I ran again and handily won a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. I was honored to have served one term representing the good people of the former Legislative District 25, however, I lost my bid for re-election in 2010.
I live south of Sierra Vista with my husband Bob Fleming. We have been married almost 11 years, and have a combined family that includes five children and 12 grandchildren. I have remained a participating and involved civilian representative and continue community activism as I run for the Arizona Senate from the new LD 14.
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?
If elected, I will work to reverse these radical, ideologically based laws. I will work to include easier access to contraceptive medications and devices as part of a woman’s health care options. Government bureaucrats should never be in charge of personal health care choices. However, without major changes in the demographics or partisan elected officials, in both the Arizona Senate and Arizona House, none of this is going to happen.
Since Jan Brewer has taken office, how has your constituents’ access to family-planning services been affected, and why are these services important?
Most of LD 14 is rural, where immediate access to any medical services is extremely limited, unless it’s considered an emergency, and even at that, medical, let alone family planning services are subject to the limited availability of doctors, nurses, and clinics. Budget cuts, in all forms, were disastrous for my constituents and for health care providers. Restricting eligibility for potential AHCCCS enrollees means that many of my constituents will go without preventive medical care, to include birth control.
Your opponent, Gail Griffin, filled out a CAP survey in which she indicated support for conscience clauses — for example, that she would be in favor of allowing a pharmacist to refuse to dispense emergency contraception if the medication interfered with the pharmacist’s moral or religious beliefs. How would you respond to that?
Perhaps my opponent doesn’t realize that dispensing legally prescribed medications does not require, nor should it require, an individual’s moral judgment. A licensed pharmacist is licensed to dispense prescriptions, not determine morality.
Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care choices?
People know their own needs better than bureaucrats.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
The voters need to know that I support women, their civil rights, and I oppose the assaults that have been put upon them by the majority in the Arizona Legislature.
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.