The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!
[R]ich Bauer has spent his entire life involved with the area that makes up Legislative District 24, which encompasses portions of both Phoenix and Scottsdale. Because of this, he feels a deep commitment to the place he calls home and the people within it, which is why he seeks to represent those people in the Arizona House of Representatives.
Mr. Bauer took the time for this telephone interview (transcribed below) on July 11, 2014, to discuss his positions on some issues most relevant to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.
“I can promise you that I’ll have your backs.”
Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in Central Phoenix, District 24. I raised my children in Central Phoenix. I was raised by a small businessman; he owned a chain of optical stores. And I’m married to a woman who is a small business owner. I spent my entire adult life with the Phoenix Fire Department; I just retired a couple months ago. I retired as a captain.
On my days off from working a 56-hour work week on a fire truck, I was director of community programs for Phoenix Fire Fighter Charities, where in the past 10 years, I was able to raise $12 million to put back in the community without using a nickel of taxpayers’ dollars.
One of the biggest accomplishments is that I took the highest ZIP code for drowning in the nation — we spec’d every pool in that ZIP code through contributions. We brought that drowning rate to zero, and it remains at zero today.
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients seeking reproductive health services?
I think they should notify every organization before they do an inspection when that organization involves medical care, because of HIPAA laws, privacy, and that person’s care. I think it [HB 2284] was a deliberate bill to go overboard, to do nothing but harass Planned Parenthood. And I truly believe that they’ll win their day in court.
In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?
It’s important to fight for it because I believe women have the right to do, with their bodies, what they want. In other words, I am pro-choice. I don’t believe in mixing religion with government. It infuriates me when the government tells anybody what they have to do with their body, whether it’s a woman or not. Or if they can take a contraceptive or not, like in the new Supreme Court decision with Hobby Lobby — that infuriates me. You know, you give a person a benefit; it’s their benefit.
So I’m going to fight for the right — for not only women’s rights to be left alone — but for all people to be left alone. I mean, this era has taken us back in time: It’s almost like a new civil rights war that’s about to start.
In June, an appeals court affirmed the right to perform medication abortions up to nine weeks in accordance with an evidence-based protocol, when the state legislature wanted abortion providers to use a more restrictive, outdated method. Why is it important that politicians leave the practice of medicine to doctors?
Because they’re the doctors and politicians aren’t. We have to rely on their expertise.
I am not a professional politician. Like I’ve told you, I spent my entire career working in the streets, helping people and making the community better. That’s where my expertise is. If I need to rely on new technology from a doctor, I have to listen closely and pay attention — and learn from the experts.
Arizona Mayors released a report stating that high school dropouts cost the state $7.6 billion over the course of their lifetime. What do you think about the connection between teenage pregnancy and high-school dropout rates?
Well, teenage pregnancy is one of the highest reasons for high school dropout rates. That’s a fact.
What I would do to help resolve that is help fund Planned Parenthood for prevention — for birth control pills, condoms, things like that — for people who are less fortunate economic-wise, so that they can go in and get those services. A lot of these girls are not from the wealthiest neighborhoods. They get pregnant because they can’t afford contraceptives.
In Legislative District 24, all three House candidates have received PPAA’s endorsement, and all three have indicated that jobs and the economy are legislative priorities. Can you explain the connection for you? How does access to sexual and reproductive health care, like that provided by Planned Parenthood, support economic development?
I’ll tell you how: Because it keeps kids in school. And if we can keep them educated with a good quality education — and we’re not dealing with these teenage pregnancies but preventing these dropouts — we educate people who get jobs and contribute to the system. When we fail these children and they aren’t allowed contraceptives, they get pregnant. They drop out of school. They become people who draw off the system because they’re at a loss. Now they’re taking care of a baby, and they’re not able to go out and get good work because they can’t afford daycare, they can’t afford the things you need to earn a living.
They’re not contributing to the system. Unfortunately, they start drawing off of the system because of a choice — because they didn’t have a choice to get affordable contraceptives.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Because I believe in the cause, and I fight for the cause. I always have. Even as a civilian and not in the legislature, I fought for the cause, and I want to continue fighting for the cause as a representative for the state of Arizona, District 24. And I can promise you that I’ll have your backs.