If you are keeping count, last week saw the 100th day of our Arizona state legislative session. Some might say that the lack of any outright proposals to attack abortion during this legislative session should feel wonderful. It does.
But — although there has been a 63 percent increase in six-week abortion bans introduced in state legislatures across the country — Arizona has seen zero bills further reducing access to reproductive health care because Arizona is already one of the most over-regulated states in the country for abortion care. It does not mean progress has been achieved when it comes to gender equality.
Instead of introducing another ban on abortion, Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) decided to go after state funding for 2-1-1, a hotline that connects people with resources across Arizona, especially in times of need. Cathi Herrod, who leads CAP, is jeopardizing more than 900,000 Arizonans’ connection to critical social services for $33 worth of calls from people seeking information on their private, constitutionally protected right to abortion care. It is simply more proof that Arizonans’ health, safety, and practical needs are being dismissed for an extremist agenda at the expense of our collective well-being.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) failed to move forward and the efforts to pass it this session have been stopped in their tracks. Even with the groundswell of women who led in voting in the midterms, it is still an uphill battle to get the ERA passed and eventually ratified.
These setbacks have not deterred our endorsed legislators, who piece by piece are getting protections and advancements for people’s rights to the governor’s desk.
Sen. Victoria Steele’s Senate Bill 1250, which allows survivors of sexual assault to get an injunction to stop continued harassment from their perpetrators, was signed into law last week. Similar to Rep. Jennifer Jermaine’s bill that creates a committee to study missing and murdered indigenous women, these laws are chipping away at the social inequalities that remain in our state.
Rep. Daniel Hernandez made note of this progress in an opinion piece that lifted up the victory of repealing “No Promo Homo” and reinforced the work still left to be accomplished. LGBTQ+ people need to know that in every corner of this state and country, they can live without threat. Arizona can work toward that by adopting a statewide nondiscrimination policy that includes gender and sexuality.
Beyond Arizona, an Oregon federal district court announced it would issue a preliminary injunction to block the Trump-Pence administration’s domestic gag rule from taking effect on May 3. Now people across the country can still access the care and information they need through Title X, our nation’s only program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care. While this is a huge victory, it’s only temporary, as the case will continue to be litigated. We must remain steadfast in opposing this unethical and dangerous law that would have impacted more than 15,000 people in Arizona. We want to send a clear message to the administration: The only path forward is to follow the law and protect patients’ access to quality, affordable health care.
These victories did not fall in our laps. They require long hours, hard conversations, and Beyoncé’s Homecoming-levels of energy and attention to every detail to embody and represent the movement we are growing up to be.
As the specter of the 2020 presidential race grows, we would like to remind everyone that we have City of Phoenix elections on the horizon. On May 21, Phoenix residents in Districts 5 and 8 will decide who will represent them on the City Council. The Arizona Republic followed our lead endorsing Vania Guevara for District 5 and Carlos Garcia for District 8. Ballots can be completed and mailed by May 15, and voting centers can be found at https://www.phoenix.gov/cityclerk/services/election-information/May-2019-runoff-election.