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 the House race for Legislative District 25, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed two candidates: David Butler and Sheila Ogea. LD 25 covers much of Mesa, where earlier this year high school yearbooks drew attention to Arizona’s high teen pregnancy rate by featuring a two-page spread that spotlighted the high school’s teen parents. Ranked against other states, Arizona’s teen pregnancy rate has been among the highest in the nation for many years.
David Butler is running for one of the House seats in LD 25 because he would like to see education improved in Arizona — and that includes sex education. His position on that and other reproductive justice issues earned Butler an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona when he ran in 2012 — and again this year, as he makes another run for the Arizona Legislature.
Butler faces two opponents in the race, Republicans Russell Bowers and incumbent Justin Olson, both of whom hold positions that would be detrimental to reproductive justice if given legislative traction. Bowers, who has a zero percent rating from the Stonewall Democrats of America, opposes access to abortion and does not support medically accurate sex education. Olson, too, wants to restrict abortion access and sponsored a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
Butler generously took the time on October 18, 2014, to tell us why he is optimistic about this year’s election and to elaborate on the positive changes he’d like to see in Arizona’s health care policy.
“Caring for patients should be in the hands of the doctors and not the politicians.”
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?
My commitment and desire to serve the citizens of Arizona continued to grow over the past two years. Where policy is concerned, our state is still stuck with its head in the desert sand. My hopes and convictions are focused on the 2014 midterm elections. I feel strongly that our Democratic ticket of candidates is very strong from top to bottom. I’m amazed at the excitement and hope that so many volunteers are showing.
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 am against HB 2284 because in my opinion it is anti-woman and anti-health care. Also, in some negative way it is tied to Planned Parenthood, since Planned Parenthood is one of the providers it targets.
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 can’t leave certain things alone and anything having to do with abortion is one of those. Caring for patients should be in the hands of the doctors and not the politicians. Politicians need to leave their prejudices outside of the chambers of the Legislature.
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 saw that report and was astounded by it. I believe that there is a direct correlation between teen pregnancy and the high school dropout rate. Progressive sex education should be taught in our schools in order to make students keenly aware of the consequences of teen pregnancy.
A focus of your campaign has been the need to improve education in Arizona, which has one of the lowest rankings in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other research institutions have found strong correlations between poor academic performance and sexual risk behavior. What improvements would you like to see in education generally and sex education specifically to improve health and other outcomes in Arizona?
Again, in today’s world teens must be well educated as it pertains to sexual risk behavior. I would definitely emphasize education. We must spend our funds wisely and spend them in the classroom, on students and teachers, for attracting top administrators and principals. And we can’t afford not to spend money on the collapsing infrastructure of our public schools.