The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting today. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2012!
On her campaign website, Angela LeFevre describes herself as “a broad-minded Democrat who’s been involved in politics all [her] life.” In fact, she graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a degree in economics and international relations. She’s worked on a number of social and political causes throughout the United States, the most recent being as president of the board of Democrats of the Red Rocks (DORR), a position she held until she resigned to seek election to the Arizona House of Representatives.
“When circumstances arise and a woman is faced with a difficult choice, government has no place in making that decision for her.”
LeFevre is running as a candidate in the new Legislative District 6, an area of substantial scope, both in geography and in diversity of constituents. It extends north of Sedona and Flagstaff to the edge of Grand Canyon National Park, south past Payson and into areas of the Tonto National Forest, and east to Heber-Overgard and the Sitgreaves National Forest.
LeFevre took the time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on October 9, 2012.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born in Leeds, England and earned a degree in economics and international relations from the London School of Economics. I immigrated to the United States in 1981 after having spent a year in Iowa as a foreign student in 1967. I knew I would come back here to live. I taught fourth grade in a New Orleans public school where my two children were students. I also started a small telecommunications business, which required hiring employees. From that I moved into the corporate world in senior management for Qwest Communications for 14 years. That meant living in Denver, Colorado, where I became active with the Democratic Party.
My life experience provides me with the skills and knowledge base to address the most crucial issues in Arizona today: the economy, jobs, and education. I have been a consistently strong advocate for women and will remain so when elected. In the past I worked on behalf of other political candidates, especially women, volunteered many hours working with disadvantaged teens both here and in Colorado. My reasons for running are many but mainly, I believe Arizona is on the wrong track, that our legislature has not represented Arizona’s citizens.
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 legislature has been putting the cart before the horse regarding these issues. No one wants an abortion. The best way to avoid that unfortunate possibility is to educate our young people using accurate, science-based sex education in our public schools and appropriately funding family planning and affordable birth control using those methods that work best for the individual. When unprotected or forced sexual acts occur or when birth control efforts fail, we should stand by women by offering emergency contraception. Roe v. Wade is the law and, as a legislator, I will support the law. I will also do whatever I can to ensure that Planned Parenthood receive[s] full funding and that its vital contribution to health care as a whole in rural Arizona is recognized.
One of your Republican opponents, Brenda Barton, not only voted for every one of those bad bills listed above, but she also helped sponsor HB2627, which prevents Planned Parenthood from qualifying for the “working poor” tax credit, and HB1359, which protects doctors who withhold information from their patients if such information might lead to an abortion. What do you believe Rep. Barton’s voting record says about her priorities when it comes to women’s health?
I find Ms. Barton’s priorities regarding women’s health issues somewhat puzzling. However, since I personally do not know Ms. Barton, I cannot accurately comment on what motivates her to legislate in such a manner. I find her legislation regarding Planned Parenthood vindictive and influenced by a very right-wing agenda, not by common sense and care for our needy families.
On the other hand, 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 to 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?
It is unfortunate that we would need legislation requiring a physician to administer emergency treatment regardless of the medical emergency. However, I would support bills such as HB2331 and HB2616 and, given the opportunity, will work with fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle regarding these issues.
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?
I believe government has a role in the bigger picture, making sure that our country and/or state provides a structure for the common good, providing laws that protect citizens and allow for healthy and honest commerce. However, health care decisions that do not impact society as a whole belong to the individual and her or his health care professional, spiritual adviser, and family. A realistic look at American society tells us that not all citizens can afford private medical services but are no less deserving. Institutions such as Planned Parenthood have stepped forward to fill that void and I believe that government can play a pivotal role in educating and protecting the health of all citizens.
In that context, how would you respond to the statement made by your other Republican opponent, Bob Thorpe, that “abortion is not an acceptable form of birth control”?
Although we all agree that abortion is not something any woman wants to have, Mr. Thorpe’s statement has a message. It is saying that abortion should never be allowed. He is also insinuating that some women actually use abortions as a way of birth control. How far from the truth. Almost all of us recognize that abortion is not an acceptable form of birth control. To reiterate, no one wants an abortion. However, when circumstances arise and a woman is faced with a difficult choice, government has no place in making that decision for her. We need to be proactive in preventing unwanted pregnancies through family planning, contraception, and accurate, truthful sex education.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Planned Parenthood provides critical health care services to a multitude of women in Arizona, services that many women would not have access to otherwise. These services are a benefit not just to the women who are directly affected but to their families and society. Healthy women are better able to care for themselves and their families, to fully contribute to society as a whole.
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.