Meet Our Candidates: Ian Danley for Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board

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!

ian-danleyPhoenix Union High School District is one of the most recent districts in Arizona to implement a comprehensive sex education policy, one that includes medically accurate, age-appropriate information on anatomy, reproduction, and biology; teaches students how to reduce risk of unintended pregnancy and STDs; and “empower[s] students to make informed decisions and create healthy relationships.” While these topics should form the basis of any sex education program, they are sadly lacking in most of Arizona’s classrooms, despite the demand for them.


“Helping our students learn and understand how to protect themselves, their relationships, their health, and their bodies is something we want for ALL of our students.”


Electing school board members who understand how important sex education is to students’ well-being is a crucial task for the savvy voter, and the parents and students of Phoenix Union are lucky that their district has forward-thinking folks at the helm — folks like Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsed candidates Ian Danley and Lela Alston. Unfortunately, school boards are constrained by state laws, which in Arizona represent the weakest link in even the most progressive sex education policies.

The state of Arizona has forbidden schools from portraying same-sex sexual behavior in a positive light since 1991. In October 2015, the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board issued a resolution expressing regret that their sex education policy, “while it is a significant step forward, is not truly inclusive.” And, despite their wish to be inclusive of all students, such as their LGBTQ kids, archaic state law has the district in a straitjacket. The school board has called this law “offensive” and “shaming,” and states that it “has no place in Arizona educational policy.”

Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers attempted to repeal this law at the state level, but they were blocked by the Republican majority. The tension between the wishes of a local school board and state-mandated homophobia illustrates perfectly why it’s so important to vote the entire length of the ballot. Your state government makes educational policies that impact each district and each student. And, in Arizona, school boards have their hands tied by state-level legislation that prohibits them from offering their students the best curricula. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Lela Alston for Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board

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!

photo of Lela - headshot 4-2014 copyPhoenix Union High School District governing board candidate Lela Alston is back and at it again. A longtime school teacher and current member of the House of Representatives, Ms. Alston is running for reelection to the governing board of the Phoenix Union High School District. Ms. Alston’s impressive track record of public service reflects her commitment to Arizona’s children and families, for whom she is striving to build a better future. As a school board member, Ms. Alston will continue to advocate for comprehensive sexuality education programs, fight for adequate funding, and celebrate inclusivity and diversity.


“Our students will be healthier in their current lives and in their future lives if they have full knowledge of important subjects such as contraception and HIV/AIDS.”


Ms. Alston participated in our “Meet Our Candidates” series in 2012 and 2014 as a candidate for the House of Representatives, and on October 10, 2016, she graciously agreed to a telephone interview in which she discussed her candidacy for PUHSD school board.

Tell us a little about your background and why it’s important to you to be involved with education in your community.

I am a retired teacher from PUHSD, and I was asked to run by my colleagues when they felt the board was not supportive of students, faculty, and other employees. I have long been involved in the political world, and I have always had education, children, and families at the top of my agenda. I served in the state Senate from 1977 to 1995, and in 1994 I ran for State School Superintendent and lost to Lisa Graham Keegan. After that, I went back to teaching school full time. I retired 10 years ago, and eight years ago there was an opening on the school board for which I was asked to run. I am now running for my third term on the school board and I have in the meantime gone back to serving my legislative district in the state House. This year I will be starting my seventh year in the House, so I will be term-limited from the House after this next two years.

As a teacher I taught home-economics, and my master’s is in child development and human relations, so the issues of education, family, and children just kind of naturally fit with the issues I have championed all my adult life. Continue reading

Abstinence-Only Is a Failure to Educate

Editor’s Note: The following post was written by Julie, one of Planned Parenthood Arizona’s interns. Julie is an Arizona State University student majoring in biological anthropology and women and gender studies. She has a passion for women’s reproductive health, and hopes one day to pursue medical school and become a provider for an organization like Planned Parenthood.

college studentsHow well do college students feel their sex education prepared them for navigating relationships in college and coming into their sexuality?

Though many young people begin dating in high school, college is the time when a lot of relationships flourish and students begin to explore their own sexuality. The experience can be exhilarating, like navigating a battlefield of hookups and breakups without the threat of a curfew.


Abstinence-only programs fail students, who need accurate information to make informed decisions to protect their health.


Facing the dating scene in college can be scary as well, especially for those who didn’t have the chance to learn about sexuality or how to form healthy relationships while still at home. Many schools across the country teach only abstinence to students, and this can leave them ill-prepared to make healthy decisions when they face real-world situations.

Bailey W., an ASU women and gender studies student, describes her experience with sex ed in primary school as anything but comprehensive. Her school provided the abstinence-only education common in schools across Arizona and many other areas of the country. These programs advocate for heterosexual, monogamous marriages as the only appropriate settings for sexual interaction.

For Bailey, this created an unhealthy mental perception of sex that followed her into college. “I felt guilty about my sexuality because I was always taught that there are only two options: Don’t be sexual and stay safe, or be sexual and put yourself at extreme risk of ruining your whole life.” She admitted she didn’t know much about birth control until she came to college, and her first boyfriend basically taught her about her own anatomy. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Sheila Ogea for State Representative, LD 25

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Sheila Ogea scaledLegislative District 25 is located in Maricopa County, covering much of Mesa. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed two candidates in the House race: Sheila Ogea and David Butler.

In stark contrast to their Republican opponents, our endorsed House candidates in LD 25 are strong supporters of reproductive health and justice. As Ms. Ogea told AZCentral.com, “We need to make sure abortion is safe and accessible and work together to decrease unwanted pregnancies by making birth control and sex education available.” We asked her to talk to us in more depth about her views on reproductive-rights issues in Arizona.

Ms. Ogea was kind enough to share her thoughts with us on October 17, 2014.


“I strongly trust in a woman’s right to make her own decision about her body.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am one of six children raised by a single mother. We lived in Arizona and California when I was growing up.

I have been married to my husband, Robert, for 47 years. We have two daughters. We lived in Michigan for about 30 years. I was a housewife, working part time occasionally as a waitress and volunteering at the school. When my daughters were old enough, I started going back to school, taking word-processing and accounting classes. I starting working through temp agencies to try and get some experience, and eventually I got a job with Wayne County Health Department.

I joined the National Organization for Women (Downriver Chapter in Michigan) in 1989 right after attending a huge rally for abortion rights in Washington, D.C. Our chapter used to volunteer to escort patients at a local abortion clinic. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Butler for State Representative, LD 25

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

David Butler 2014In the House race for Legislative District 25, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed two candidates: David Butler and Sheila Ogea. LD 25 covers much of Mesa, where earlier this year high school yearbooks drew attention to Arizona’s high teen pregnancy rate by featuring a two-page spread that spotlighted the high school’s teen parents. Ranked against other states, Arizona’s teen pregnancy rate has been among the highest in the nation for many years.

David Butler is running for one of the House seats in LD 25 because he would like to see education improved in Arizona — and that includes sex education. His position on that and other reproductive justice issues earned Butler an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona when he ran in 2012 — and again this year, as he makes another run for the Arizona Legislature.

Butler faces two opponents in the race, Republicans Russell Bowers and incumbent Justin Olson, both of whom hold positions that would be detrimental to reproductive justice if given legislative traction. Bowers, who has a zero percent rating from the Stonewall Democrats of America, opposes access to abortion and does not support medically accurate sex education. Olson, too, wants to restrict abortion access and sponsored a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

Butler generously took the time on October 18, 2014, to tell us why he is optimistic about this year’s election and to elaborate on the positive changes he’d like to see in Arizona’s health care policy.


“Caring for patients should be in the hands of the doctors and not the politicians.”


It’s great to talk to you again! How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

My commitment and desire to serve the citizens of Arizona continued to grow over the past two years. Where policy is concerned, our state is still stuck with its head in the desert sand. My hopes and convictions are focused on the 2014 midterm elections. I feel strongly that our Democratic ticket of candidates is very strong from top to bottom. I’m amazed at the excitement and hope that so many volunteers are showing.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

I am against HB 2284 because in my opinion it is anti-woman and anti-health care. Also, in some negative way it is tied to Planned Parenthood, since Planned Parenthood is one of the providers it targets. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

Emily Letts

Emily Letts

  • Arizona (which has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the United States) doesn’t require its students to take sex ed, and thus over 75 percent of students in Tucson aren’t taking it. This is not good! (AZ Daily Star)
  • Arizona religious zealot and crackpot Pastor Steven Anderson says birth control has turned women into “whores” and stated, “Not only does birth control do damage to women, it hurts their body if they’re using the pills. And it also affects their character, causing them to be an idle, tattler, gossip, turning aside after Satan.” Whoa, man! Obviously this concerns me, so I perused the little info packet that’s included with my birth control pills and these do not seem to appear in the side effects. Hmm. Someone must not be telling the truth. WONDER WHO? (Raw Story)
  • As you may have heard, Emily Letts set off a firestorm when she allowed her abortion procedure to be videotaped. As expected, the portion of the population that believes women should be forced to give birth under any and every circumstance is infuriated that she doesn’t seem completely ashamed by her choice and chose to share it rather than hide it. (NBC News)
  • How much did the Affordable Care Act save women on the cost of birth control in 2013? $483 million! Yay, thanks President Obama! #HighFive (Think Progress)
  • Between 2008 and 2011, the national abortion rate declined by 13 percent. (San Diego Free Press)
  • NARAL is kicking ass and taking names in the fight against “crisis pregnancy centers” lying to women via Yahoo and Google ads. (The Hill)
  • Senate Republicans are going after more abortion legislation. Act surprised, y’all. (Politico)
  • Astute, profoundly reasonable thinker, Sarah Palin, opines that having a grandkid could change Hillary Clinton’s views on abortion. Yeah … I guess we’ll just ignore the fact that Hillary GAVE BIRTH TO HER OWN BABY 34 years ago and is still pro-choice. (CBS News)
  • As I’ve mentioned before, having babies can sometimes make women even more strident in their pro-choice views. Here’s one woman’s story: (RH Reality Check)