The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, with early voting beginning on July 31. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!
Incumbent state Senator David Bradley, who Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona interviewed in 2012, is seeking once again to represent the interests of Legislative District 10 — an area that includes much of eastern Tucson and portions of central Tucson — in the Arizona legislature. During his most recent term, he has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills designed to reverse state-mandated barriers to abortion access and to provide accurate, accessible health care for Arizonans.
Mr. Bradley kindly took the time to participate in this interview on July 10, 2014.
“Medical decisions should be made based on science and not the philosophical positions of legislators.”
How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?
Medicaid expansion and the creation of the new child welfare agency were both positive and hopeful accomplishments of this legislative term. The existence of a reasonable center in the legislature is also reason to be positive about the legislative session. Much, of course, rides on the governor’s race this year, with hope that a reasonable individual is elected.
Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do you explain to constituents the unique nature of abortion care and the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients?
I focus on the personal decisions that a woman makes, hopefully done in consultation with others, [which] should be done both with privacy and safety. Opponents to abortion are free to make their case in just about any forum they choose, but that should not include the clinics where those services are delivered. In the end, the final decision is for the woman making it, and that decision should be made without coercion or intimidation from anyone.
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?
Politicians should not interfere with the doctor-patient relationship in any context. Medical decisions should be made based on science and not the philosophical positions of legislators.
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?
I know personally that teenage pregnancy contributes to a whole series of setbacks for young women, high school completion being just one of them. The severity of the setback is contingent upon the support the teenager has, in order to deal with the pregnancy and the care of the child after birth. In many cases that support is minimal, and when it is so, the likelihood of the teen completing their education is, at best, delayed by many years or, at worst, never completed, setting in motion a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., you said, “There is nothing pro-life about today’s court decision. The decision will more than likely lead to more unintended pregnancies and just as likely more abortions. To curb a woman’s access to birth control is fundamentally cruel and abusive. This is a faithless decision by any reasonable moral or ethical standard.” Can you expand on this? What potential does this have to impact Arizona residents and voters?
My point is that the decision is basically an invasion of personal rights of women. It is faithless in the sense that a woman’s right to choose the most effective birth control is impeded unjustly, and will result in consequences that the proponents of the ruling are supposedly trying to avoid, namely unplanned pregnancies that result in abortions. Removing the option, even from a woman who is opposed to abortion, is in my view immoral and unethical.
The broader implications of the ruling seem to portend a return to the logic that was the seed for the ill-fated SB 1062 of the last session, which allowed owners of business establishments to refuse service to someone who was deemed inappropriate because of the owner’s personal beliefs. That is a dangerous path no matter what your personal beliefs are, because the day can come when any personal belief is deemed a legal defense of almost any level of abuse.