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

Photo: Jamelah E.

Photo: Jamelah E.

Perhaps the news site 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!

[S]heri 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