The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began 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!
When we first interviewed Bruce Wheeler in 2012, he demonstrated his commitment to reproductive justice and access to family planning health care services. In 2014, he seeks to serve another term representing the the eastern Tucson region that is Legislative District 10.
In addition to a continued strong stance on reproductive justice, Mr. Wheeler has stressed issues such as public education and the problem of discrimination against the LGBTQ community as key issues in his campaign.
Mr. Wheeler took the time for an interview on August 4, 2014.
“Government and politicians have absolutely no right to dictate a woman’s most personal medical and health care decisions.”
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?
I am more committed than ever because of critically important personal and policy issues at risk in Arizona. What has given me hope, in spite of horrible legislation proposed and passed, is that some of that horrible agenda has suffered setbacks due to public awareness and pressure, as well as a handful of significant successes by progressive legislators.
The passage of Medicaid expansion was transformative. We now have more than 330,000 Arizonans with health insurance who previously did not.
The defeat of SB 1062 was galvanizing not only for the majority of Arizonans, but nationally as well. The instant demand that this bill, which would have codified discrimination against our LBGT community, be vetoed succeeded in just that.
The actions by our Supreme Court to nullify some of the more restrictive anti-abortion legislation passed, also strengthens my commitment to continue to fight against efforts by government to dictate a woman’s right to contraception, health care, and her right to an abortion.
Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, 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?
HB 2284 directly attacks the right of privacy to a woman seeking abortion services by impacting her relationship with her doctor and interfering with her wish to not be harassed and intimidated by government “inspectors.”
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?
Doctors are trained professionals who assess a medical situation in private consultation with his or her patients. A politician has no such training, understanding, or empathy for a woman’s choice on such a deeply personal matter. Government and politicians have absolutely no right to dictate a woman’s most personal medical and health care decisions.
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?
There are many factors which explain our unacceptably high school dropout rates. Included are many factual studies drawing a parallel between teenage pregnancy and dropout rates. It is simply a fact. One of many remedies is to offer sex education courses beginning in middle school.
In a year where Arizona made dubious national news with its anti-transgender “bathroom bill” (SB 1045), entities in Tucson have taken steps to improve protections for trans individuals. Namely, Tucson’s mayor and city council voted to oppose SB 1045, Tucson Unified School District amended its nondiscrimination policy to include trans people, and the University of Arizona added a student health insurance plan that includes benefits like behavioral health services and gender reassignment surgeries for transgender students. Given the particular discrimination trans people can and do face, how would you support advancing these issues at the state level?
I will continue to speak out and vote against any attempt to resurrect any legislation similar to SB 1045. I will continue to work with groups and organizations which rallied around opposition to such hateful legislation.
If you’d like to become more informed about Bruce Wheeler’s campaign, including his other endorsements and positions on other issues, you can do so by visiting his campaign website.