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!
[L]egislative District 25 is located in Maricopa County, covering much of Mesa. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed two candidates in the House race: Sheila Ogea and David Butler.
In stark contrast to their Republican opponents, our endorsed House candidates in LD 25 are strong supporters of reproductive health and justice. As Ms. Ogea told AZCentral.com, “We need to make sure abortion is safe and accessible and work together to decrease unwanted pregnancies by making birth control and sex education available.” We asked her to talk to us in more depth about her views on reproductive-rights issues in Arizona.
Ms. Ogea was kind enough to share her thoughts with us on October 17, 2014.
“I strongly trust in a woman’s right to make her own decision about her body.”
Tell us a little about your background.
I am one of six children raised by a single mother. We lived in Arizona and California when I was growing up.
I have been married to my husband, Robert, for 47 years. We have two daughters. We lived in Michigan for about 30 years. I was a housewife, working part time occasionally as a waitress and volunteering at the school. When my daughters were old enough, I started going back to school, taking word-processing and accounting classes. I starting working through temp agencies to try and get some experience, and eventually I got a job with Wayne County Health Department.
I joined the National Organization for Women (Downriver Chapter in Michigan) in 1989 right after attending a huge rally for abortion rights in Washington, D.C. Our chapter used to volunteer to escort patients at a local abortion clinic.
We moved to Arizona in 1998 after my husband retired, and I found the local NOW chapter and [began] learning about the local candidates. I also joined the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus editing their newsletter. I have served on the AZ NOW Board as secretary and treasurer, and I am currently the newsletter/membership coordinator. I was elected to serve as a southwest regional representative on the National NOW Board for two terms.
I worked at the Clean Elections Institute for a couple of years. Then I got a job closer to home at a concrete construction company where I worked for 10 years. I am now retired, which is good since I am running for office.
Earlier this year, one of your opponents, Justin Olson, voted for HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?
It’s another back-door way of making it more difficult for women to access a safe, legal abortion while sounding like they care about women, with the added benefit of costing Arizona more money.
Justin Olson also voted in favor of SB 1062, which would have allowed discrimination based on religious beliefs. In his Center for Arizona Policy survey, your other opponent, Russell Bowers, indicates he would support such a law as well. How do your views on discrimination and religious freedom differ from those of your opponents?
I am opposed to discrimination of any kind. No religion should have the right to make laws that force another person to conform to their belief(s).
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?
I would introduce a bill to make all charter schools accountable, the same as public schools, and to strengthen science-based curriculum in public and charter schools, which would attract businesses to Arizona and improve job opportunities. I would also introduce a bill to increase the minimum wage, which would help improve the economy.
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?
I would think that it certainly pertains to teenage girls, which would probably lead to increased welfare costs. I support comprehensive sex education so that there will be fewer unintended pregnancies, abortions, and high-school dropouts and a higher success rate due to them staying in school.
Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?
People deserve the right to make their own health care decisions, because they are the ones who have to live with the decision for the rest of their lives.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Because I strongly trust in a woman’s right to make her own decision about her body and reproductive choice.