The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona primary election will be held August 28, 2018, and voters need to be registered by July 30 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!
When David Garcia ran for superintendent of public instruction in 2014, two friends, independently of each other, told me I would like him a lot. So when he announced last year that he was running for governor, I listened to his reasons and was impressed.
The same groups in Arizona that push anti-abortion legislation so strongly also have other interests, including state funding for religious schools in the form of “vouchers.” The Empowerment Scholarship Account program, which gives money to parents to spend on private or religious school tuition, is already available for children with special needs, or who attend public schools that perform poorly. Last year, these groups lobbied successfully to extend this program to all children. The problem is that these moneys come out of public school funding, hurting the rest of Arizona’s students.
“Without a moderating influence in the governor’s office, Arizona will continue to see bad legislation that chips away at women’s reproductive rights.”
The program, which was scheduled to begin this school year, had just been signed into law when Dr. Garcia decided to run for governor. Although he has been involved in education policy for years, and was looking forward to making positive changes as superintendent of public instruction, he felt he could no longer run for that office. As he said, “The superintendent’s role is to implement the voucher bill, and there’s no way I could put together a full-throated campaign for a position whose responsibility would be to dismantle public education.”
Fortunately, thanks to a strong grassroots effort, enough signatures were collected to get a repeal of the voucher law onto the ballot this November. On the strength of this widespread opposition, the courts put a permanent injunction on the law until voters get to have their say, a decision the Arizona Supreme Court recently upheld.
It is no surprise that Gov. Doug Ducey didn’t just sign voucher expansion into law — he also actively lobbied state legislators to help pass the bill. Ducey is involved with the far-right Center for Arizona Policy, which has been responsible for anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, and religious freedom bills for years. Its director, Cathi Herrod, has been one of his policy advisers since his first race for governor. If Ducey is reelected, we can confidently expect more of the same. Continue reading