“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: Ginny Dickey for Mayor of Fountain Hills

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 need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Ginny Dickey scaledGinny Dickey is running as a write-in candidate for mayor of Fountain Hills, a town of about 22,000 people in Maricopa County, east of Scottsdale and bordering the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Ms. Dickey, one of five siblings who grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley, moved to Fountain Hills in 1983, following her parents, who relocated in the late 1970s. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Tufts University.

Ms. Dickey jumped into the race challenging Mayor Linda M. Kavanagh for several reasons, including that Mayor Kavanagh would be running unopposed for the third time.


The Fountain Hills mayoral election will be decided on August 30 — not in November.


“There was a definite discontent overall that the mayor would once again be unopposed,” Ms. Dickey told us in an email. “We opened a $500 threshold campaign committee on June 28 so we could do a poll, which came back that we could possibly be successful, so we opened up the full campaign committee on July 11,” 10 days before the write-in deadline.

“The reaction was very encouraging and positive. No matter the result, this has been such a joy and privilege to offer up a choice,” wrote Ms. Dickey.

Much of her time is spent “making sure people know I am a candidate, then on how to actually vote for me,” Ms. Dickey wrote. “The legislative mandate that cities must hold elections in the fall of even years has disenfranchised Independent voters and turned our local elections into partisan affairs.

“Forcing our high number of Independent early voters to select which ballot they want decreases turnout for them. But we are getting the word out on several fronts, and hopefully the mantra, ‘Write-in Ginny Dickey for Mayor and connect the arrow,’ is permeating our electorate.”

Whoever receives the majority of the votes on the August 30 mayoral election in Fountain Hills will be declared the winner, and will not run in November’s general election — meaning that this citywide race will be decided next week, not later this year. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Charlene Fernandez for State Representative, LD 4

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 midnight tonight — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Legislative District 4 stretches west to include parts of Yuma, north to Buckeye, east to the San Xavier Reservation near Tucson, and south to the U.S.-Mexico border. As she seeks to represent this district in the Arizona House of Representatives, Charlene Fernandez plans to make health care — along with education, economic development, and agriculture — a key issue in her campaign.

She was kind enough to take the time for an interview on September 24, 2014.


“We’ve seen our legislature repeatedly try to pass laws pressuring women into making health decisions that align with a certain ideology.”


Tell us a little about your background.

Born in Yuma, my roots in our community run deep. I served as a board member for the Yuma Community Foundation, the United Way of Yuma County and the Cultural Council of Yuma, as well as a San Luis Community Fund committee member. And I worked hand in hand with rural communities at the state Department of Environmental Quality as an appointee of Gov. Janet Napolitano.

I am a life-long Democrat and advocate for choice and progressive values. I was elected to the second-highest position in the Arizona Democratic Party, and was elected to many leadership roles in the Yuma County Democratic Party. My husband Sergio and I have three children, two grandchildren, and live in Yuma.

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?

HB 2284 is an egregious violation of patient privacy and amounts to harassment. I am against this bill and any bill designed to restrict a woman’s health care options. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Terry Goddard for Arizona Secretary of State

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!

Terry_Goddard 2014Terry Goddard is running for Arizona secretary of state — one of eight executive positions that are open during the 2014 general election. This seat is currently held by Ken Bennett, who is barred from running for re-election under Arizona’s term-limit restrictions. As attorney general under Gov. Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jan Brewer from 2003 to 2011, state director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1995 to 2002, and four-time mayor of Phoenix from 1983 to 1990, Mr. Goddard is no stranger to Arizona politics.

The secretary of state is the first in line to succeed the governor in the event of removal from office, and primarily serves as Arizona’s chief election official. In a time when states are actively working to mandate strict voter registration laws to disenfranchise voters under the guise of minimizing voter fraud, it is essential that Arizona elect a secretary of state who understands Arizona from the ground up. As secretary of state, Mr. Goddard will ensure that we all retain our right to vote for individuals who will serve on our behalf and protect our basic human rights.

Mr. Goddard was kind enough to talk to us on September 22, 2014.


“One of Arizona’s greatest strengths is our diversity. We should celebrate it, not demonize it.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am an Arizona native and ASU College of Law graduate. I am proud to have served on active duty in the U.S. Navy. I retired as a commander after 27 years in the Naval Reserve.

I was elected mayor of Phoenix four times, serving from 1983 to 1990. In those years, the city greatly increased citizen participation, expanded and modernized law enforcement, revitalized downtown, and set up nationally recognized programs in economic development, the arts, and historic preservation. During that time, we worked closely with Planned Parenthood to control potentially highly disruptive demonstrations at clinics and protect the rights of women patients. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ken Clark for State Representative, LD 24

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 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 primaries, you must register to vote by July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

A longtime Arizona resident with previous legislative experience, Ken Clark seeks to represent Legislative District 24, located in Central Phoenix, in the Arizona House of Representatives. In addition to receiving Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement, Mr. Clark has made economic development, sustainability, and LGBTQ rights prominent issues in his campaign.

Mr. Clark graciously took the time for an interview on July 16, 2014.


“The constant and intentional confusion about science in order to win a political or moral debate is reprehensible.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I moved to Arizona in 1982, as an Air Force dependent. As a child in Southern Arizona, I learned to value the natural beauty of the state, as well as the need to protect the environment.

We moved to Germany in 1985, where I attended high school, followed by my undergraduate studies at Northern Arizona University. I completed my master’s degree at the American University in Washington, D.C., and I spent about two years after that in Sarajevo, where I produced radio programming all over Bosnia.

I returned to Arizona in 1998 and pledged to stay here, where I could work for positive change.

I ran for office and won in 2002, and served in the legislature for one term.

I chose not to run again in 2004, and was asked by Gov. Napolitano to direct the State Energy Office.

After directing that office for about a year and a half, I worked on several political campaigns. I reported to Kyrsten Sinema as the manager of the 2006 Arizona Together campaign [which successfully opposed an anti-marriage equality ballot initiative].  Continue reading

Voting Rights, Reproductive Rights, and What’s at Stake in Arizona’s Election

Photo: Jamelah E.

Photo: Jamelah E.

Perhaps the news site Vox.com said it best when summing up the relevance of the 2014 election. The day news broke of the Supreme Court’s decision to grant Hobby Lobby an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, Editor-in-Chief Ezra Klein pointed out that “Supreme Court Justices die unexpectedly and retire strategically, and … the timing of even a single vacancy can end up reshaping American law for decades to come.” Klein went on: “If Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014 then they’ll have substantial veto power over any efforts President Obama might make to fill a vacancy that could reshape the Court.”


This fall’s gubernatorial race will be crucial in securing Arizonans’ reproductive rights.


A decision from the Supreme Court that arrived the prior week, striking down a Massachusetts “buffer zone” law that protected women from intimidation when they sought services at reproductive health clinics, adds even more weight to Klein’s argument.

Much is at stake both in the national election and the state election here in Arizona. Although a major change in the makeup of the legislature is unlikely, the governor’s race makes the 2014 election a critical event. Whatever comes out of the legislature, how Arizona’s next governor uses his or her veto power can mean the difference between Arizona’s continuing notoriety in the War on Women — after already enacting requirements for ultrasounds, waiting periods, and state-directed counseling for abortion patients — or health care policy that upholds reproductive rights.

When Janet Napolitano held the governor’s office from 2003 to 2009, she set a record for the number of vetoes in a single session (58) and in a single term (115), and many of her vetoes kept a conservative legislature from dismantling reproductive healthContinue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Sheri Van Horsen for State Representative, LD 21

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!

Sheri Van Horsen has experience in a variety of government service positions. A candidate for the State House of Representatives in previous years, Van Horsen now seeks to represent the newly drawn Legislative District 21 — which includes the areas of El Mirage, Sun City, and Peoria — in part to help combat the legislature’s recent war on reproductive rights, women, and health care. In addition to her endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, she has been endorsed by the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus.

Van Horsen took the time for an interview with us on September 23, 2012.


“A fundamental right in this country is the freedom to make our own health care choices and to be secure in the ownership of our own bodies.”


Tell us a little bit about your background.

I have a background in law and have worked as deputy director of constituent services for Gov. Janet Napolitano. I previously served as an executive administrative assistant to the chief of staff for the attorney general’s office; director of constituent services, attorney general’s office; special projects coordinator for [the] Anti-Meth Task Force; Consumer Protection Task Force; community groups; ethnic group committees; Homeland Security Task Force; special paralegal – criminal division – voter fraud unit, white collar crimes and severance unit, attorney general’s office.

I am married to Michael Tarrats, and we share two beautiful daughters. We are dedicated to working hard for a better life for our children, and we share a passion for community service, advocating for workers’ rights, and holding politicians accountable for their actions. We have four dogs, two cats, and a house full of love.

Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care choices? What role do you feel the government should play in legislating and facilitating health care services, especially family planning services?

It is a fundamental right afforded to all Arizonans that we decide what is best for ourselves and our families. All of our situations are unique and as individuals, we are in the best position to decide what is best for ourselves and our families. Government need only ensure that Arizonans are receiving quality care from licensed professionals and that facilities are safe and operating at or above industry standards. Continue reading