Meet Our Candidates: Felecia Rotellini for Arizona Attorney General

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!

felecia-rotellini scaledFelecia Rotellini is running for Arizona attorney general. The role of Arizona’s attorney general is to serve as chief legal officer on behalf of the state of Arizona. She boasts nearly 30 years of prosecutorial experience, including in her current role as a prosecutor for a private law firm in Phoenix and her previous position as superintendent of the State Banking Department in Arizona under Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Ms. Rotellini’s opponent is Mark Brnovich, who publicly spoke out in favor of businesses instead of people during the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, which eventually allowed businesses to exclude contraception from the health insurance plans they provide their employees on the grounds of religious beliefs. Putting faith before the law, Brnovich has made clear his intention to legally protect every demographic but women when he states, “Whether that be protecting the rights of the unborn, children, seniors, or our veterans, we have a solemn obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. My faith and my experience as a prosecutor teaches me that.” Brnovich goes further in implying that he feels no obligation to protect and defend laws that concern women when he specifies: “We also have an obligation to protect and defend our laws that concern the unborn.”

Ms. Rotellini takes a broader approach to inclusiveness as she seeks to uphold the law to protect all Arizonans, including members of the LGBTQ community. As Arizona’s attorney general, she pledges to “support equal protection under the law for one and all, with no exceptions.”

Ms. Rotellini was kind enough to speak with us on October 28, 2014.


“I’m disappointed that my opponent supports a new version of SB 1062 to legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I have lived in Arizona for 28 years; I’ve been a practicing attorney for 28 years. Eleven of those have been in the private sector as a litigation attorney, and 17 of those years as a public lawyer. I worked as a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office for 13 years in both the civil and criminal divisions from 1992 to 2005. And then I ran the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions as superintendent in the cabinet of Gov. Napolitano and also Gov. Brewer. I was in that job from 2006 to 2009. Over 17 years, I was in uninterrupted public service. I had the opportunity to work primarily in financial fraud, consumer fraud, and senior fraud.

I have had some very big cases. Because of my background as a trial lawyer, I did jury trials in my civil practice from 1986 to 1992. I was the lead lawyer for the state against Arthur Andersen, the accounting giant, for the failed audits of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona, where there were 11,000 investors who lost their retirements, and we were able to return $217 million to the victims, mostly working-class and senior citizens. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Carmen Casillas for State Representative, LD 8

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. 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 general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Legislative District 8 is geographically expansive, ranging from just north of Maricopa northeast past Globe and south as far as San Manuel. It includes all of Globe, Florence, and Coolidge, parts of Casa Grande, and many smaller communities. By making education, jobs and the economy, public safety, and comprehensive immigration reform cornerstones of her campaign — and by knocking on plenty of doors — Carmen Casillas seeks to represent this district in the Arizona House of Representatives.

She took time out from canvassing on September 19 to participate in the telephone interview transcribed below.


“Everyone, it doesn’t matter — color, race, creed, religion, sexuality — everyone should be treated equally and with respect.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a mother of three — I just lost my son, 36 years old, on August 2 — a grandmother of nine, and a great-grandmother of one. And I’m very proud of all of them. I am born and raised here in Globe, Arizona, and I’ve tried to improve the quality of life here. Hopefully, I did.

I was a past vice mayor for two years and past councilwoman for four years with the city of Globe. I am the founder and CEO of the DVVA Response Team, an acronym that stands for the Domestic Violence Victims’ Advocate Response Team. This program was started from scratch and ran for a period of 10 years. I am co-founder of the Boys and Girls Club here in Globe. I am co-founder of Gila House; that is a program for families who have been burnt out or are in the process of a foreclosure that is not due to their own making. And now we are moving into helping members of the homeless population who have passed drug tests and background screenings. I am a strong leader in my community. Continue reading

Giving Thanks to Obamacare

thanksgivingThe following guest post comes to us via Morganne Rosenhaus, community engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

This year, as a 20-something woman, I have a whole lot to be thankful for and I want to take a moment to share, because I know it’s not just me the universe is smiling down on.


Those of us celebrating Thanksgiving have so much to be thankful for this year.


I am thankful for the Affordable Care Act — a bill that has and will continue to change the lives of so many people in the United States. I should also say I am equally thankful that the 40-plus attempts to stop the Affordable Care Act from being enacted didn’t pass either (whew!).

I want to take a moment to share what it is about the ACA that makes it so amazing — especially for young women.

Inclusion on your parents’ health insurance until you turn 26. Let’s face it, these days it is not a given that you graduate and immediately start working a full-time job with benefits. Finding a job takes time and sometimes you have to take the part-time waitressing gig, the retail job, or an unpaid internship on the way to landing that dream job. And, newsflash, internships and part-time jobs usually don’t include benefits like health insurance (unless things have changed in the last few years…).

Free birth control. The rumors are true. Birth control is FREE. Just wait until you have that moment where you pick up your pills and don’t pay anything — it is pretty darn exciting.

Tons of other preventive health care benefits that will make your head spin. Free birth control is awesome, but not every woman needs or wants birth control. Other women might be pretty excited for the free breastfeeding supplies and counseling, or interpersonal and domestic violence screening, which are also available at no cost through the ACA.

Affordable health insurance. With cost-sharing and tax premiums available to people who need them most, health insurance is affordable for more people. Plus, if you are a woman, you don’t have to worry about how being a woman might impact your coverage. Can you believe that insurance companies could, at one point in time, charge women more just because being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition?!

Although the Affordable Care Act has been slowly coming together over the past few years, this year had some of the more important, hallmark ACA pieces come to fruition. With the exchanges opening (well, sort of…) in October and coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014 for millions (yes, I said millions) of people, 2013 was sort of a big deal. Plus, starting January 1, 2014, your health insurance really does have to let you get your birth control for free. No more games.

So tomorrow, I am giving thanks to something that has not only changed my life, but also the lives of so many other young women just like me — and it will continue to do so in the coming years!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Family Revolution and the Egalitarian Tradition in Black History

Sadie T. Alexander

In the interview with Stephanie Coontz featured earlier this month, we discussed the many changes in American households that have occurred in the 50 years since Betty Friedan published her landmark book, The Feminine Mystique. Friedan’s book was a literary catalyst that helped usher in a family revolution, in which the norm of one-earner households was replaced by the norm of the two-earner households we know today; a change that gave many women more equality in their marriages.


A strong egalitarian tradition has long been a part of black history.


What might surprise some readers is that we could have also discussed the many changes that had occurred already, even as Friedan was still writing her manuscript. Among black Americans, much of what Friedan wrote was not prescient, but dated. As Coontz wrote in A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, “Long before Betty Friedan insisted that meaningful work would not only fulfill women as individuals but also strengthen their marriages, many African-American women shared the views of Sadie T. Alexander, an influential political leader in Philadelphia, who argued in 1930 that working for wages gave women the ‘peace and happiness’ essential to a good home life.”

While sorting out the book’s legacy, Coontz wanted to explain what The Feminine Mystique had gotten right and wrong about American families and women’s domestic roles in the 1960s. A particular problem Coontz addressed was how The Feminine Mystique ignored the experiences of black and other minority women — an omission cited by many critics since the book’s publication. A book Coontz found invaluable in addressing that omission was Bart Landry’s Black Working Wives: Pioneers of the American Family Revolution (University of California Press, 2002). Landry did not write his book as a critique of The Feminine Mystique. Rather, it was while looking at historical statistics on wives’ employment that he decided to write in greater detail about an intriguing difference he noticed between black and white wives: “the employment rates of black wives were about ten years ahead of those of white wives.” Continue reading

The Feminine Mystique in Retrospect: An Interview With Stephanie Coontz, Part 1

Award-winning author Stephanie Coontz has published a long list of books and articles about the history of family and marriage. She has written about the evolution of those two institutions from prehistory to today, in works that have been widely praised for their intelligence, wit, and insight. In her most recent book, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s (Basic Books, 2012), Coontz takes us back 50 years to a breakthrough that changed the role of women in American households.


“Equal marriages require more negotiation than unequal ones.”


In 1963 it was clear that a revolution was beginning. After its approval by the FDA at the beginning of the decade, 2.3 million American women were using the birth control pill, the oral contraceptive that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger had been instrumental in pioneering. And on February 19, 1963, 50 years ago today, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, a book that sold millions of copies in its first three years. It quickly became the object of both derision and acclaim for awakening women to aspirations beyond what discrimination and prejudice had long defined for them. If oral contraceptives were the breakthrough in medicine that finally enabled women to plan their reproductive lives around their educational and career goals, Friedan’s landmark book was the breakthrough in consciousness that gave many the resolve to do it.

Friedan was a magazine writer whose experience surveying women at a college reunion was the spark that drove her to uncover “the problem that has no name.” She was referring to the dissatisfaction and depression she found widespread among housewives, not just at the reunion but in many other encounters she had with them as a writer. Convinced that it would help married women — and their marriages — if they sought their own identities outside of the home, Friedan synthesized a wealth of research to make her case in The Feminine Mystique. Stephanie Coontz’s A Strange Stirring is a social history of The Feminine Mystique that takes readers from an era of far-reaching sex discrimination in the early 1960s when Friedan made her breakthrough, to the contemporary era when many of Friedan’s appeals have been realized but new challenges hinder equality. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Matthew Cerra for State Representative, LD 16

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Born in Casa Grande, Matthew Cerra is an Arizona native. Since then, he’s spent many years working in both public and private education in Arizona as well as in the state’s penal system. Cerra is currently seeking to represent Legislative District 16, which includes the city of Apache Junction and the area of Gold Canyon, in the Arizona House of Representatives. He took the time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on September 3, 2012.


“It was bad enough for women who had to let husbands decide what choices were to be made … Can you imagine a government doing that as well?”


Tell us a little about your background.

I currently work as a company trainer — I provide information and training on many of the systems developed by the company I work for to its employees. Prior to this I worked in public and private education and I have worked in the private prison system as an addictions treatment specialist. My career has thus far focused on helping people to improve, helping them to achieve more with their lives.

As a child I lived through every abusive situation that a person can experience, many of these issues stemming from lack of proper family care and management. I have been a child “of the system,” I understand the need for help that many of our children have in families facing difficulties. By the time I was 12, I had testified against a stepfather in a felony abuse trial and was in foster care with my three sisters. Prior to that, I witnessed violence in the home and watched my mother be involved with domestic violence. So when I hear about politicians thinking of expedient ways to get rid of systems that kept me alive — saying they are a waste of resources — I take personal offense to that. I agree that parts of the system need changing. I also recognize that many save lives, and mine was one of them. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Katie Hobbs for State Senator, LD 24

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Katie Hobbs is currently a representative for Legislative District 15 in Phoenix, and a candidate for state senator in Arizona’s new LD 24. Hobbs established herself as a leader during her first term in the state legislature. She has been very vocal about women’s health care issues and sex education. She is a lifelong resident of Phoenix, and we’re very proud to endorse her. What follows is an exclusive interview conducted in July 2012.


“Making women’s reproductive health care accessible, affordable, and safe should be a top priority.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a social worker — I have a master’s degree in social work. I’ve spent 20 years working with homelessness, mental health, and domestic violence. I’m also a native Arizonan, wife, and mother, and I’m raising my family here in central Phoenix. I don’t want Arizona to be the state that is constantly ridiculed in the national media. I am proud to be an Arizonan, and I want my children to be proud that they grew up here.

What women’s health care issues do you think should be addressed in the legislature?

We have done some good things for women’s health care. This past year, we passed a bill that will help more women diagnosed with breast cancer have access to treatment. Unfortunately, you can’t separate reproductive health care from women’s health and that’s just what the legislature has tried to do. They have passed legislation (which I fought against!) that severely compromises women’s health by restricting access to family planning, cancer screenings, preventive care, and safe and legal abortion. Continue reading