The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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!
In Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Bonnie Boyce-Wilson and Larry Woods ran unopposed during August’s Democratic primary for two seats in the House of Representatives.
In this November’s election, both Wilson and Woods face incumbents David Livingston and Phil Lovas, both of whom also ran unopposed in their Republican primary. Both Livingston and Lovas exclude the LGBTQ constituents of LD 22. Both voted in favor of SB 1062, which, if it had passed, would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQs under the excuse of “freedom of religion.” Livingston states that “marriage is only between a man and a women [sic]” and is opposed to legislation that would allow unmarried domestic partners the same employee and health benefits as married couples. Livingston is also against an anti-discrimination law that would add “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression” to the protected classes of race, religion, age, sex, and ancestry.
The women of LD 22 are also not high priorities for either incumbent. Both voted in favor of HB 2284, which currently allows unannounced inspections of abortion facilities in Arizona. Lovas voted for HB 2036, which would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks if it wasn’t unanimously struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for violating a woman’s constitutional rights. Livingston is opposed to abortion and believes “it is the duty of our government to protect the unborn.”
Boyce-Wilson specifically calls out Arizona women as one of her priorities. She is an advocate for: (1) working women, by supporting economic empowerment through equal pay for equal work; (2) victims of violence, by supporting the establishment and maintenance of shelters, as well as taking a proactive stance on human trafficking; and (3) all women, by supporting affordable access to health care, including reproductive health care.
Ms. Boyce-Wilson was kind enough to talk to us on October 13, 2014.
“As a social worker, I firmly believe that people have a right to self-determination, including making health care decisions.”
Tell us a little about your background.
I have lived in Sun City West, Arizona for 14 years, having retired as an administrator of the Division of Child Welfare in Colorado. I have a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver and am certified by the National Association of Social Workers.
After moving to Arizona, I joined the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters, and have served as president and lobbyist for both groups. I am known and respected for my hard work, enthusiasm, and political activism. I also volunteer at Benevilla, a multi-generational agency serving seniors and families.
I worked for the past 10 years as a social worker for Hospice of the Valley. I have also taught as an associate professor at the Graduate Schools of Social Work at the University of Denver as well as at ASU, teaching courses in “Advanced Social Work Practice” and “Social Policy and Change.”
Earlier this year, your opponents, David Livingston and Phil Lovas, voted for HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?
I believe HB 2284 was a direct assault on women’s rights. Warrantless searches and inspections are an unnecessary intrusion on women’s privacy as well as medical caregivers. Extremists supporting this bill are harassing women by passing unconstitutional laws that waste Arizona taxpayer money.
Your opponents also voted for SB 1062, which was widely interpreted as an attack on the LGBTQ community. How do your views on protecting LGBTQ rights differ from those of your opponents?
SB 1062 would have given businesses the right to claim religious objections to providing services to customers, and fueled a national negative perception of Arizona. I believe all people deserve mutual respect, full and equal rights. Opponents promise SB 1062 is not dead — they plan to bring it back next session. I will oppose any attempt to discriminate based on age, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
In contrast to bills like HB 2284 and SB 1062, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?
Legislation enacted in Arizona should be based on the desires and needs of all Arizona citizens and should not discriminate against any group. I will not support ALEC-drafted bills. I am a strong advocate for education, human rights, and services. Businesses choose not to come to Arizona because their employees do not view Arizona as a state where their children can receive a quality education, nor do businesses expect to find an educated workforce. We must reverse the negative image of Arizona. I will also focus on creating safe havens against human trafficking. In contrast to previous legislators, I will focus on equality, education, safety, and the economy, and will fight to support these ideals.
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? Do you support comprehensive sex education?
Arizona has one of the highest rate of high school dropouts in the nation and also is consistently among the states with teen pregnancies rates higher than the national average. Forty-five percent of Arizona high school students are sexually active. I fully support comprehensive sex education to help prevent unwanted pregnancies, reduce the number of abortions, and contribute to helping young people graduate from high school.
Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care decisions?
As a social worker, I firmly believe that people have a right to self-determination, including making health care decisions.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
I support the goals and principles of Planned Parenthood and requested endorsement as a mutually productive step. It is win-win if Planned Parenthood [Advocates of Arizona] supports and helps to elect legislators like me who believe in equal rights.