The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting starts today! 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!
Covering parts of Pinal and Maricopa counties, including Gold Canyon, Apache Junction, and parts of Mesa, Legislative District 16 is home to more than 220,000 Arizona residents. Scott Prior made the decision to run for Senate in LD 16 so that his fellow constituents could be represented by someone who advocates for workers, makes education a priority, and supports equality for Arizonans regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Both he and his spouse Cara are seeking to represent LD 16 to bring more attention to those issues in the legislature, with Cara running for one of the open seats in the House of Representatives. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed both Scott and Cara Prior because of their commitment to reproductive justice.
Mr. Prior returns to the campaign trail after running in 2012. At that time, he shared his thoughts with this blog on the many issues that needed to be addressed in the legislature, including Arizona’s high teen birth rate, inadequate sex education, and health care policy that interferes with private decisions between doctors and patients.
On October 4, Mr. Prior generously took the time to share his thoughts with us again, highlighting many of those same issues but explaining why he is hopeful for a better outcome in this year’s election.
“Let’s leave the practice of medicine to the doctors … and keep legislation out of it.”
It’s great to talk to you again! 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?
Over the past two years, it has become even more imperative to get common sense people in the state legislature. We have seen a continuing shift over the past several years of elected officials working for the benefit of corporations and special interests, and away from helping the people of our great state. I firmly believe that until we can elect people who will concentrate on the important issues of the economy, creating jobs, and fixing our failing education, we will continue to be the laughingstock of the late-night comedy circuit.
This election cycle will be different, I believe, as my opponent doesn’t have the [same] name recognition and popularity as my opponent in 2012. This gives me hope that I might be able to make a difference, and have a good chance that this election will be much closer of a contest. My convictions are strengthened by the fact that in the 2014 primary, I gathered more votes than I did in the 2012 primary. This means that people are more interested in getting their voices heard, even in a midterm election.
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?
I personally believe that HB 2284 is just another way for those who don’t believe women can make their own health care choices to try to intimidate and prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights. If those same people who supported this bill spent as much time working on taking care of children after they are born as they do before they are born, then my district would not have a 16 percent child poverty rate, 11 percent of the children in my district would not be without health insurance, and education statewide would not be ranked so low compared to other states.
It’s hard to know where to start with your opponent, David Farnsworth. He sponsored HB 2284. He’s also been endorsed by Arizona Right to Life and told the Center for Arizona Policy, “I am 100% pro-Life No exceptions [sic].” Both that and his vote on SB 1062 fly in the face of popular support for Roe v. Wade and LGBTQ rights. What do you think his disregard for reproductive rights and popular opinion say about his willingness to respond to the needs and wishes of Arizonans, especially in terms of sexual health and health care?
I personally believe that Sen. Farnsworth is like most who are strong in his personal and religious convictions, and as an individual that is very commendable. As a legislator, however, it only helps those with the same personal and religious convictions. The population of Arizona is not made up of only those with that background, so creating legislation that imposes that upon all the people of Arizona is, to me, a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Legislation needs to be logical and beneficial to all the people of Arizona, and not just a small portion of its people based on their faith. Otherwise, it has and will inhibit proper sexual health and health care issues, and continue to allow discrimination against those who do not follow those ideals.
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?
It is important for people to understand the idea that a woman’s health care choices are personal and private, and should remain that way. Most politicians are not doctors, and even if they are, they are not the doctor of each patient. Therefore, they should have no say whatsoever in the care given to a woman who is not their patient. Let’s leave the practice of medicine to the doctors of the individual, and keep legislation out of it.
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 is a definite connection between teenage pregnancy and high-school dropout rates. Arizona is ranked in the Top 10 of the 50 states with the most teen pregnancies. The interesting thing about that is that nine of the Top 10 states all have abstinence-only sex education in their schools. It is a statistical fact that by teaching age-appropriate and scientifically based sex education, it is possible to reduce teen pregnancy and birth rates significantly. If you also include easy access to affordable birth control as they have in Colorado, then both teen pregnancy and abortion rates will plummet. That is how you reduce abortion: Don’t make it more difficult to get an abortion, prevent it by using common-sense solutions to prevent unwanted pregnancy.