Know Your Rights: Advocating for Your Sexual and Reproductive Health

This guest post comes from the Planned Parenthood Arizona Education Team’s Casey Scott-Mitchell, who serves as the community education & training coordinator at Planned Parenthood Arizona.

It’s important that all young people have the information and resources they need to take care of their sexual and reproductive health. However, depending on the state you live in, you might encounter barriers in the form of laws and policies that affect your ability as a young person to access your sexual and reproductive rights. Through our work of providing sex education in various Arizona communities, we know many people aren’t fully clear on what their rights are when it comes to sexual and reproductive health — so consider this a quick crash course!


A critical step in protecting your sexual health is to understand your rights.


In terms of information about sexuality, there is no state law requiring sex education in schools. It is up to each school district to decide whether they provide sex education, and what type of curriculum they want to use if they do provide it. We know there are many districts across Arizona that have chosen not to offer sex education to their students or to provide limited information about sexuality (e.g., abstinence-only sex ed).

The lack of consistency around sex education is problematic because research shows that most youth and their families want their schools to offer comprehensive sex ed  — a holistic curriculum that covers topics like consent, healthy relationships, STDs, birth control, abstinence, etc. Furthermore, when youth receive comprehensive sex ed, they are more likely to have healthy relationships and make choices that will reduce their likelihood of unintended pregnancies and STDs.

When it comes to accessing resources and services that help young people protect their health, there are a few laws in Arizona that are important to know about: Continue reading

The Fight for Equality and Inclusion in Sports Continues in Arizona

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, strategic relations officer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Sports can often teach character traits outside the classroom: good sportsmanship, being a gracious loser and a humble winner, and the importance of fairness and contributing to a team. Participating in sports can be a powerful way to hone physical agility, mental resiliency, and personal identity. For kids, it’s a way to learn teamwork, sportsmanship, and the endless potential that can be unearthed when goal-focused individuals come together and execute a winning plan.


There is no ‘I’ in Team, but there is a ‘T’!


Let’s acknowledge, too, that sports have often been divisive and disheartening. Black athletes across the board have generally had to break some form of “color barrier” in their respective sport. Women, too, have often been left on the sidelines. As athletes of color and women continue to navigate the racist and sexist systems in place, they slowly make progress toward equality.

The fight for equality often leaves the field for legal proceedings and public opinion. The clearest example of an actual struggle for progress in women’s sports is the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team’s legal fight to obtain equal pay and better working conditions. As our World Cup champions fight for fair compensation, a different inclusion barrier is being beaten down by another cadre of athletes: transgender athletes.

The unifying power of sport is lost on some, and now career politicians in Arizona are targeting children for political gain. Some would have you believe that women’s sports are vulnerable and need “saving” — not from inequity in pay or sexist stereotypes, but from transgender girls and women. Luckily for women’s sports, the savior they didn’t need or ask for, Rep. Nancy Barto, has come to the rescue with HB 2706, which only allows “biological girls” to participate on girls’ teams in interscholastic sports. Continue reading

What’s the 411 on 2-1-1 Bills?

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, strategic relations officer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Hello, 911? I’d like to report a dumpster fire.

Anti-abortion politicians are at it again — this time targeting the 2-1-1 referral system as a pretext for charging the taxpayers $3 million to fund a pilot program to promote childbirth instead of abortion. The 2-1-1 system is a statewide information and referral network that has been in service since 1964, with more than 80% of calls regarding public utility inquiries.


A new funding bill for the 2-1-1 system is bloated with unnecessary abortion restrictions and charges taxpayers $3 million to promote childbirth.


2-1-1 Arizona is a private, nonprofit organization run by Crisis Response Network, Inc. Through their website, mobile app, and automated phone system, Arizonans can learn about important community services — resources that include assistance with housing, food, and bills; domestic violence; health, dental, and mental health care; services for disabled people and veterans; employment services; and more. Planned Parenthood is one of hundreds of resources listed under Health & Dental, and their inclusion in 2-1-1 Arizona’s listing helps connect patients to vital family planning, STD testing, and cancer screening services. A Google search shows there is no mention of the word abortion anywhere on 2-1-1 Arizona’s website. Continue reading

The People’s Agenda and the Next 100 Days

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, strategic relations officer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

I love the smell of democracy in the morning!

Monday, January 13, was Opening Day of the 2020 Arizona Legislative Session, and it reeked of (small ‘d’) democratic hopes and dreams. But right out of the gate, before the session even started, Republicans filed bills that are set on limiting the rights of everyone from teachers to asylum seekers, cutting funding to public schools, and essentially outlawing inclusive sex education.

Planned Parenthood gathered with civic leaders, organizations, and progressives from around the state to remind legislators they are here to get the People’s work done and not be distracted by personal politics.

Our agenda — the People’s Agenda — reflects the needs of everyone in Arizona:

  • Education is vital to the future of our state and our children, and our partners at Arizona Education Association are advocating on behalf of teachers and educators for more equitable and progressive funding of public schools — including teacher and support staff pay, facilities maintenance, and school counselor and nurse allocations.
  • When it comes to Reproductive Rights & Justice, Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA) are gladiators for bodily autonomy. PPAA aims to repeal a 1906 law that Arizona has on the books that criminalizes abortion providers by imprisonment of up to five years.
  • In terms of Equality, we heard from our partners at the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Arizona, who reminded us that LGBTQ people are still treated differently in Arizona and our vigilance is needed to protect the rights of all. Already this session, lawmakers are rumored to have introduced bills (like these already introduced in other states) that interfere with the delivery of health care to transgender youth. And sex “education” bills have been introduced that do not allow students to learn about the spectrum of identities, and others mandate schools teach abstinence to homosexuality.
  • Our partners at Teamsters 104 spoke on the need and the power of labor unions, highlighting the struggle of Tucson’s steelworkers, who have been on strike since October. Arizona needs an economy that is fair and works for all of us, and our partners at LUCHA are working to ensure the voter-passed minimum wage increases remain unhindered by the Legislature, while ensuring predatory loan companies are not a threat to Arizona families.
  • On the Environment; our friends at Chispa and the Sierra Club once again spoke truth to power, even if that power denies that truth. Climate change and the risk to communities’ air and water are real and happening now, and Chispa has been fighting the money and influence of Arizona Public Service Co. in the past few cycles.

The next 100 days are expected to be a roller coaster of emotions and parliamentary procedure. We’ll need your voice, your action, and, ultimately, your commitment to get us through 2020!

Please ensure you and everyone you care about is registered to vote, knows about the upcoming elections, and gets out the vote!

2019: A Year in Blogging

Nearly three years into the Trump administration, a lot of us are tired. The headlines got more and more draining, culminating in impeachment proceedings at the end of the year. But in response, we’re so fired up that we’re ready to storm the polls next November — and make sure our friends and family do so as well. And 2019 was also a time to be hopeful. In January, a record 102 women walked into the House of Representatives, ready to serve their constituents — making up nearly a quarter of House members, the highest proportion in U.S. history. The Senate saw gains as well, with 25 female senators out of a total of 100. Many of these newcomers made it their mission to fight for the very human and civil rights that are currently under attack.

Outside of politics, we’re still committed to connecting people to the information they need via technology, such as Planned Parenthood’s abortion finder tool, or the Roo app, a sexual-health chatbot that was named by TIME Magazine as one of the year’s best inventions.

Throughout the year, our bloggers were here to shed light on the political happenings and spread awareness about important sexual and reproductive health issues. We asked them to pick their favorite posts of 2019. They’re definitely all worth a second look!

Anne covered the fifth anniversary of the Hobby Lobby decision, which marked the Supreme Court’s ruling that some for-profit corporations could, like human beings, exercise religious beliefs. The Hobby Lobby decision placed religion over science, allowing employers to limit employees’ access to birth control methods otherwise guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act — exploiting a legal loophole to give corporations the right to damage their employees’ health in the name of religion. Five years later, its destructive legacy lives on: The Hobby Lobby decision has since been commandeered to deny birth control, attack the LGBTQ community, make a mess of health care administration, and more.

Matt’s favorite post pointed a spotlight on an important but overshadowed piece of history, the case of People v. Belous, which 50 years ago marked the first time a patient’s constitutional right to abortion was upheld in the courts. The post introduces us to Dr. Leon Belous, a Southern California physician who believed abortion bans were antiquated and barbaric — and was arrested for “conspiracy to commit abortion” after referring a patient to a safe abortion provider in the 1960s. The California Supreme Court vindicated Dr. Belous, setting the stage for Roe v. Wade and the expansion of abortion rights a few years later. As Matt tells us, “I think this case is especially relevant to the borderlands area and the complex role that border towns played in abortion access and the social attitudes toward the procedure.”

Ava wrote about the criminalization of miscarriage. That might not sound possible — the idea that someone could be arrested or imprisoned for having a miscarriage — but plenty of people find themselves in this perplexing and outrageous situation. People who lose their pregnancies may be blamed for these losses if others decide they engaged in risky behaviors, despite the medical fact that most of the time, miscarried or stillborn fetuses die of natural causes, and miscarriage within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is astonishingly common. These laws may also target people of color, as Black, Latinx, and Native-American people are more likely to experience pregnancy loss than non-Hispanic white people. Simply put, criminalizing pregnancy loss casts pregnant people as vessels rather than people.

Tracey shared her own powerful and personal story about miscarriage. She described that string of four simple words — “I had a miscarriage” — as intimately felt and inconceivable to say. For Tracey, talking about the loss of a baby was almost as hard as losing the baby. She now uses her story to fight stigma, and to encourage other people to do the same. When we are silent around the issue, so many of us suffer in silence, while the reality of the prevalence of miscarriage is distorted for the rest of us. And when people don’t realize how common miscarriage is, they are more likely to blame and demonize those who lose their pregnancies.

Anna celebrated one of 2019’s medical victories, which was announced earlier this year. In her favorite blog post, she introduced readers to the “Berlin patient” and the “London patient,” two people who had HIV before coming down with blood cancers. After receiving bone marrow transplants from donors with genetic “immunity” to HIV, an amazing thing happened: Not only did their cancers go into remission — so did their HIV infections. When this feat was first performed more than a decade ago with the Berlin patient, people were hopeful it could be replicated in future cancer patients — but it took until this year for the success to be duplicated in the London patient. What do these cases mean for the millions of other people living with HIV?


Make your voice heard in 2020! Join our blogging team by becoming a Planned Parenthood Arizona volunteer. We want to help amplify your voice!

A Civil Dialogue on Abortion

The following post comes to us via Tracey Sands, a graduate student at Arizona State University’s West Campus studying communication as it relates to advocacy. Tracey believes dialogue is an act of love and strives to empower others to find and use their voice. She is an education outreach intern at Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Photo: Tracey Sands

On a chilly November evening, 100 Arizona State University students, staff, and faculty met on West Campus in Glendale to discuss a topic that inevitably leads to a moral debate filled with anger, distrust, and heartbreak: abortion. At the front of Kiva Lecture Hall, two professors sat among the group and committed to a two-hour civil dialogue on abortion. This was a room divided in beliefs, yet united through dialogue.


Civil dialogue with someone who holds an opposing position is not black and white — it’s all shades of gray.


Dr. Bertha Manninen, associate professor of philosophy at ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, argued in favor of abortion rights, while Dr. Jack Mulder, professor of philosophy at Hope College, a Christian college in Michigan, argued against abortion.

American public discourse is marked by an unfortunate trend: We choose only to discuss controversial topics with those who agree with us, leaving conversations with those outside our political, economic, social, and religious positions beyond the boundaries of possible dialogue. Further, if a discussion is to be had with someone on the opposing side, it usually slips into angry insults and disrespectful feedback. Continue reading

Before Roe v. Wade: The 50th Anniversary of a Landmark California Case

Demonstrator at New York City Women’s March, January 21, 2017. Photo: © Edith Marie Photography

“Should abortion be legalized?” That was the question posed on a forum in 1964 on Pacifica Radio. Nine years before the Supreme Court would give its own answer in Roe v. Wade, a trio of panelists debated the issue for listeners in Los Angeles.

Prompting the forum was a bill in the Legislature to liberalize California’s abortion laws. At the time, abortion was illegal unless the mother’s life was at risk. The proposed legislation, endorsed by the California Medical Association, allowed exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or when a pregnancy was not life-threatening but posed other harm to a patient’s physical or mental health.


People v. Belous marked the first time a patient’s constitutional right to abortion was upheld in the courts.


Did the bill go too far — or not far enough? Each panelist had a different take. Attorney Zad Leavy discussed the legal quandaries of people facing unintended pregnancies. He was cautious about full legalization but critical of the existing ban. Dr. Robert Hood, an area surgeon, opposed the legalization of abortion and even questioned the validity of the medical reasons commonly cited for justifying abortions. In sharp contrast, Dr. Leon Belous, an attending physician at LA’s Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, did not mince words in his support for legal abortion on demand.

Belous felt outlawing abortion was an example of “man’s inhumanity to women.” As he put it, “An injured dog on the street is treated with more sympathy and concern” than the countless women dying annually, or who risked that fate, from self-induced or black-market abortions. “I have seen seven to 10 of these women every month for the last 32 years,” Belous continued. “I have been seeing them in my office, many of them in the operating room, and some of them in the morgue.” He told of one who had been raped and another in desperate poverty, unable to support a child.

Belous concluded by sharing his hope that California’s “antiquated, unrealistic, and barbaric” ban would be overturned. Five years later, Belous was at the center of a case that did just that. Continue reading