“You Have No Idea How Important This Is”: Anita Hill’s Testimony and the Arizona Attorneys Behind the Scenes

Anita HillWhen Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court in the summer of 1991, it didn’t bode well for women. Marshall, the first African American appointed to the court, was best known for his expertise and influence on civil rights law, but he had also been a defender of reproductive rights during his tenure in the nation’s highest court. He was among the court majority that legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, and he again stood up for abortion rights in two later cases, Harris v. McRae and Webster v. Reproductive Health Services.


The impact of Anita Hill’s testimony went beyond the question of Clarence Thomas’ appointment.


Marshall’s decision to leave the Supreme Court was announced during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, who had campaigned on an anti-abortion platform in his 1988 presidential bid. Predictably, Bush used the opportunity to replace Marshall with a more conservative judge. At a press conference on July 1, 1991, President Bush named Clarence Thomas, who was then one of the few African-American judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals, as his nominee.

Thomas had only served 19 months as a federal judge and, at 43, was relatively young for an appointee. Of the justices currently serving, he was the youngest at the time of appointment. Nonetheless, he had a record of statements and judgments that was enough to satisfy the Republican base. Though he had spent eight years as chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), he had been critical of affirmative action and school desegregation initiatives, and he questioned the very idea that the government should take action to address racial inequality. A product of a Catholic upbringing and Catholic schooling, Thomas had called the right of married couples to use contraceptives an “invention.” Groups like the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) immediately spoke out against Thomas’ nomination, expressing concern that his presence on the court could put Roe v. Wade at risk. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Richard Andrade for State Representative, LD 29

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 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 primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix, is hosting a competitive House race this August — and that’s just the primary election, in which four Democratic candidates will be battling it out for two spots on November’s general election ballot. One of those candidates is incumbent Richard Andrade, who we endorsed in 2014 and are proud to endorse again.

Rep. Andrade is the great-grandson of Mexican immigrants, a third-generation railroader, a union member, and a U.S. Air Force veteran. On his website, some of the issues he prioritizes include health care, education, discrimination, and the struggles of working families.

Rep. Andrade generously took the time to answer our questions on July 4, 2016.


“Many working families are struggling to make a living and I have been fighting for them since I was elected.”


Since we last spoke, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown? What has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

Serving my first term in office has shown me the truth about politics in Arizona. Our Republican-led Legislature takes care of big businesses and corporations and not working families who need the tax cuts, but would rather cut programs for working families who need the assistance in order to survive. This has strengthened my commitment to run for re-election. I also have been very involved in participating in many actions against employers who have wrongfully terminated or harassed employees for wanting better working conditions, pay, and most importantly, access to affordable health care. Although there have been some victories, Arizona has a long way to go to protect working families. Continue reading

Illegal Procedure: How a 1974 Stadium Bill Put Reproductive Rights in the Sidelines

StadiumFans of the University of Arizona football team will arrive by the thousands at Arizona Stadium on September 3, the start of the fall football season, as the UA Wildcats face off against the UTSA Roadrunners, a team they defeated 26 to 23 in San Antonio last September. For fans, the stadium is a place where legends and losses are remembered. For reproductive rights advocates, it represents a devil’s bargain that took place more than 40 years ago and continues to compromise health care to this day.


In 1974, abortion rights were sacrificed to expand Arizona Stadium.


Arizona has long had a unique role in the abortion battle. In 1962, Sherri Finkbine, a Phoenix-area woman, entered the national spotlight after she found out the thalidomide she was taking as a sleep aid could cause severe fetal abnormalities. The early mortality rate among infants who were exposed to the drug was about 40 percent, in large part due to internal defects that commonly affected the kidneys, heart, digestive tract, and reproductive system.

Fearing how thalidomide would affect the development of her own fetus, Finkbine wanted to terminate her pregnancy in a state — and nation — that put legal barriers in the way of abortion. Already known to many as the star of a locally produced children’s show, she became a topic of national debate when she shared her story with a reporter from the Arizona Republic. She spoke to the reporter in the hopes of warning other mothers about thalidomide. An unintended consequence was that the publicity made it harder to quietly seek an abortion; providers who might have otherwise taken a legal risk for her couldn’t escape the attention that followed her. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • NOW thumbnailAfter abandoning earlier plans to push through a 20-week federal abortion ban because President Obama threatened to veto the hell out of it, Republicans in the House pushed through some bullhooey banning federal funding of abortion yesterday. (Reuters)
  • Unfortunately, many states already have laws in place banning abortion at 20 weeks, and more are sure to follow. (NPR)
  • Weird scenario … You find out you’re pregnant and give birth to a 10-lb. kid an hour later. Ahh! Talk about an American Horror Story! (USA Today)
  • A new health and wellness center specifically for members of the LGBTQ community has opened in Tucson. The very first of its kind in Arizona! (Tucson Weekly)
  • Are “hookup apps” the cause of rising STD rates among gay men? (HuffPo)
  • Hormonal birth control may be increasing women’s risk for a rare brain tumor. (Luckily that risk is small.) (Medical Daily)
  • Black women are making themselves heard on the topic of abortion access. (Think Progress)
  • And with black women being four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, it’s high time our voices are elevated. (Think Progress)
  • With his birthday just passing, it’s important to remember that Martin Luther King Jr. was a champion of birth control. (HuffPo)
  • An Arizona abortion provider speaks about the changing political landscape and how it’s affected her practice and its patients. (WaPo)
  • Oh gawd. Someone decided to give men a platform (’cause they don’t have enough of those already) to speak out about their “abortion regrets.” In particular, not engaging aggressively enough in reproductive coercion to force the women they got pregnant to continue their unwanted pregnancies. I could seriously vomit reading this tripe. (RH Reality Check)
  • Good news and bad news. Let’s start with the good: If you’re a fetus in Alabama, you have a legal right to a state-paid attorney to “protect your rights”! Even though you can’t, like … communicate your wishes to the attorney, or think coherent thoughts even. It doesn’t matter! You get a lawyer on the state’s dime! Now the bad news: If you’ve had the misfortune of being born already, you don’t have the right to an attorney paid for by the state. Sorry. Your protection ends once you leave the womb, pal. (Jezebel)

Tomorrow: Congress Votes on Abortion

Editor’s Note: The following post was written by Esteban Camarena.

US CongressWithin a week of returning to the Capitol, the new majority of the House of Representatives initiated once more a confrontation against women’s health by introducing legislation that would limit access to the legal and medically safe procedure of terminating a pregnancy. Legislation that is being proposed would place legislative burdens for a woman, if she chooses, to go to a doctor and undergo an abortion 20 weeks after gestation.

In the United States, a great majority of abortions occur before 21 weeks. Those that occur after that time frame are commonly due to severe fetal abnormalities and risks to the life of the mother. Due to this fact, many doctors are opposed to this type of law because it prevents them from providing the best medical care possible to their patients. A majority of doctors recognize that abortion is a very safe medical procedure; in fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 99 percent of women who undergo this procedure do not demonstrate any complication.

The majority of Americans agree that Congress should focus on more pertinent issues. What occurs between a doctor and his or her patient is very personal, and frankly a politician has no business interfering in that relationship. Every woman needs to be able to make her own medical decisions in consultation with her faith, family, and doctor. It is important to protect this right and tell politicians that it not their health, and it is not their decision.

Meet Our Candidates: Archangel Muscato for State Senator, LD 22

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!

arky muscatoIn Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Archangel “Arky” Muscato is running for a seat in the state Senate, which he hopes to win from incumbent Judy Burges.

Sen. Burges recently named health care as one of her top three priorities. This priority does not include reproductive health care for the women of LD 22 — as Burges makes clear, they are excluded from those she intends to serve: “I am pro-life and will work to protect the most vulnerable among us, whether they are at the beginning of life or the end of life.” Her voting record substantiates her exclusion of those who need protection in the middle of their lives: Burges was a prime sponsor of HB 2284, which authorizes unannounced inspections of abortion facilities without a warrant.

Sen. Burges also cites the importance of education across Arizona school districts, but excludes Arizona’s school children from those she intends to protect, as she supports the largely ineffective abstinence-only sex education instead of comprehensive sex education, preventing students from learning about essential quality of life issues, including how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Finally, Burges’ campaign promises to exclude the LGBTQ community from the groups she is willing to serve — demonstrated by her vote in favor of discrimination on the grounds of religion (SB 1062) and her views that she “support[s] Arizona’s Constitution and believe[s] that the institution of marriage between one man and one woman should be protected,” which runs against the grain of Arizona’s future.

Conversely, Mr. Muscato is running on a platform of “equal rights for all Arizonans.” He was kind enough to talk to us via telephone on October 15, 2014, to speak in more depth about his commitment to all human rights.


“My opponent is for limited government except when it comes to women’s rights and gay rights.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I came to Arizona in 1978 out of Buffalo, New York, with a bachelor’s of science in education. I started teaching under contract in the Deer Valley District in 1979. I retired in 2006, and my wife also taught in Deer Valley for 30 years. So, after 30 years we both decided it was time to do something different, especially with the cuts in pay and benefits that were looming and the increased responsibilities with very little value placed on education and, specifically, teachers. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Bonnie Boyce-Wilson for State Representative, LD 22

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!

Bonnie Boyce Wilson scaledIn Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Bonnie Boyce-Wilson and Larry Woods ran unopposed during August’s Democratic primary for two seats in the House of Representatives.

In this November’s election, both Wilson and Woods face incumbents David Livingston and Phil Lovas, both of whom also ran unopposed in their Republican primary. Both Livingston and Lovas exclude the LGBTQ constituents of LD 22. Both voted in favor of SB 1062, which, if it had passed, would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQs under the excuse of “freedom of religion.” Livingston states that “marriage is only between a man and a women [sic]” and is opposed to legislation that would allow unmarried domestic partners the same employee and health benefits as married couples. Livingston is also against an anti-discrimination law that would add “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression” to the protected classes of race, religion, age, sex, and ancestry.

The women of LD 22 are also not high priorities for either incumbent. Both voted in favor of HB 2284, which currently allows unannounced inspections of abortion facilities in Arizona. Lovas voted for HB 2036, which would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks if it wasn’t unanimously struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for violating a woman’s constitutional rights. Livingston is opposed to abortion and believes “it is the duty of our government to protect the unborn.”

Boyce-Wilson specifically calls out Arizona women as one of her priorities. She is an advocate for: (1) working women, by supporting economic empowerment through equal pay for equal work; (2) victims of violence, by supporting the establishment and maintenance of shelters, as well as taking a proactive stance on human trafficking; and (3) all women, by supporting affordable access to health care, including reproductive health care.

Ms. Boyce-Wilson was kind enough to talk to us on October 13, 2014.


“As a social worker, I firmly believe that people have a right to self-determination, including making health care decisions.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I have lived in Sun City West, Arizona for 14 years, having retired as an administrator of the Division of Child Welfare in Colorado. I have a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver and am certified by the National Association of Social Workers. Continue reading