The Arizona general election will be held on November 8, 2016. 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 the election, you must have been registered to vote by October 10. Make your voice heard in 2016!
Isela Blanc knows how important it is that our governments work for us by supporting the means for us to better ourselves. Her family came to Arizona from Mexico when she was 6 years old, and she was educated by Tempe’s public school systems, eventually becoming the first in her family to attend Arizona State University — all during years “while our state invested in education,” as she points out on her website. So, Ms. Blanc knows firsthand what’s at stake when lawmakers decide to let quality education slide further down their list of priorities.
“Women should not have to answer to anyone when making a decision related to their bodies or their health.”
Education is a major aspect of Ms. Blanc’s platform. She worries that Arizona is winning the “race to the bottom,” as $1 billion in cuts to education spending have resulted in fewer teachers, counselors, and school nurses; swelling classroom sizes; and shrinking after-school programs. As she tells us here, comprehensive sex education is just one part of a quality education, and she hopes to see it return to classrooms across the state.
Ms. Blanc seeks a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, on behalf of Legislative District 26, which includes Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. She generously took the time to answer our questions on October 1, 2016.
Tell us a little about your background.
I began as a volunteer serving on school site councils, participating in the PTA, and serving on a little league board. These opportunities drew me to education and my community. I managed early childhood programs through Tempe Community Council. I worked with First Things First to build awareness around the importance of the first five years. I have facilitated for various Arizona State University programs that focus on engaging families to provide them the tools and skills to support their child’s academic achievements.
Recently, Tucson Unified School District voted 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?
Parents and guardians should be the primary educators of sexual education, but that is not always the case. For example, my parents never spoke to me about my changing body, which caused me stress and uncertainty during and after puberty. For the many students like me, and even those students with parental support, sex education programs are opportunities to provide additional support and resources to provide age-appropriate sexual health information.
It is important to offer programs that provide young adults accurate and developmentally appropriate sex education. Comprehensive sex education programs will result in young adults who will be comfortable with themselves and their bodies, who will make good decisions related to their health, and will be responsible about their reproductive and sexual health.
Your Republican opponent, Steven Adkins, said in his Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire that anyone wishing to obtain an abortion must go before a three-doctor panel that will confirm the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life. How do your views on abortion access differ from those of Mr. Adkins?
Women should not have to answer to anyone when making a decision related to their bodies or their health. Women decide to have abortions for all kinds of reasons: poverty, bad health, too many other children, because of rape or incest, or simply because they do not want to have a child at that point in their lives. For these reasons, I oppose any kind of decision-making process involving ethics committees, three-doctor panels, or other variations on this.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Nine years ago, I lost my mom to cervical cancer because she did not get the health care she needed to prevent a treatable disease. Her death taught me how important it is to fight for women’s right to access health services.