The Arizona primary election takes place TODAY! Find your polling location here. 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.” In order to vote in today’s primary election, you need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!
Scott Prior is resilient and tenacious in his commitment to underrepresented citizens. He is running for the state Senate in Arizona’s Legislative District 16 for the third time. He previously ran in 2012 and 2014, at which time he shared his thoughts with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA). PPAA has endorsed Mr. Prior each time because as a Democrat who is independent-minded, he places the interest of people over the interest of profit. He is committed to individual freedom and believes that human dignity should come before corporate, government, or religious interests. Mr. Prior’s wife is running in the same district for the state House of Representatives. Scott and Cara have been married 20 years and live in Apache Junction. They are both committed to reproductive justice.
“Sex education should be age-appropriate and provided in schools.”
Legislative District 16 includes Apache Junction, East Mesa, Gold Canyon, and northern San Tan Valley. Mr. Prior will be running against Republican David Farnsworth. Sen. Farnsworth believes that abortions should always be illegal and does not believe that the Arizona government should fund clinics and medical facilities that provide abortion services. Sen. Farnsworth also does not support sex education in schools, increasing funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy, the inclusion of sexual orientation in Arizona’s anti-discrimination laws, or recognizing same-sex marriages.
On July 8, 2016, Mr. Prior generously took time to share his thoughts with PPAA again via Skype, sharing why he is more determined than ever to win this election.
Since PPAA last spoke with you, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown? What has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?
The serious mistakes made over the last two years by the state Legislature have made me even more resolved to make a difference in the state of Arizona. Funding for schools has been slashed while corporate tax breaks and funding for private prisons have been increased. I do not want to see what has happened in Kansas happen in Arizona. In Kansas, there has not been enough money to keep the schools open the entire year.
As a secular humanist, I do not believe or follow any religion. It is unacceptable for the Phoenix City Council and the Arizona Legislature to deny all but Judeo-Christian faiths from taking part in opening invocations. It is important that we all understand the importance of the separation of church and state.
Some Arizona school districts, like Tucson Unified School District, are beginning to include comprehensive sex education in their classrooms, but progress has been slow. How would you like to see sexuality education addressed on a statewide level?
I would like to see sex education mandated at the state level. Arizona is among the top 20 states in the United States with the highest rate of teen pregnancy. There seems to be a correlation between abstinence-only education and high rates of teen pregnancy, and teens who receive comprehensive sex education are 50 percent less likely to cause a pregnancy or become pregnant compared to teens who receive abstinence-only education. Sex education should be age-appropriate and provided in schools. Birth control should be accessible as well. In Colorado, low cost and/or free birth control has been provided to low-income individuals. These efforts have led to a teen pregnancy rate drop of 45 percent. Sex education is about more than unwanted pregnancies. It is also about responsible family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and birth defects.
Arizona made nationwide headlines when it passed a law requiring medication abortion to be administered using a protocol that is no longer supported by the FDA. What do you think a lawmaker’s role is in legislating medical practices?
I am not a doctor. These are not decisions that I should be making. Doctors should be making these decisions with their patients. The state should not be legislating how a physician should do their job. I am trained to neutralize hydrochloric acid. Someone who does not know how to do this should not try to tell me how to do this. The American Medical Association and physicians should help create medical legislation when it is needed.
In November you will be running against Sen. David Farnsworth, who helped pass HB 2599. This legislation lays the groundwork for Arizona to kick Planned Parenthood out of AHCCCS, our state Medicaid program. If that happens, AHCCCS patients couldn’t choose Planned Parenthood for their preventive health care and birth control needs. Do you think Planned Parenthood health centers play an important part in keeping Arizonans healthy?
Yes, Planned Parenthood does play an important part in keeping Arizonans healthy. Even with the Affordable Care Act and insurance, it is expensive for many to go to the doctor because of deductibles and co-pays. Planned Parenthood plays an important role in providing low-income families with the ability to get health care. The Legislature should not be telling people who can provide services and who cannot. I support single-payer health care where patients can choose their own providers.
Are there any other issues of concern that you would like to address if elected?
One tragic thing that needs to be addressed is the fact that we are losing our humanity. We rely too much on the Internet. We need to work on rebuilding our communities, making them inclusive for all people. Mainstream media does not want people talking to people but it is essential that we do just that.