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 MIDNIGHT TONIGHT — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!
When we first interviewed Rep. Lela Alston two years ago, she’d made both reproductive justice and educational reform key issues of her campaign. Now, as she seeks her third term in office, representing the part of Phoenix that is Legislative District 24, her commitment to those issues has not wavered.
Ms. Alston was gracious enough to take the time for a telephone interview, transcribed below, on July 23, 2014.
“It’s wrong for lawmakers to be making medical decisions for people that they don’t even know.”
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?
Well, I think what’s happened over the last couple of years is a breakthrough in the relationships between and across party lines. I spent some time in the Senate, way back when, and now I’ve served four years in the House. My first term, back in 2010, was very partisan in nature; there was not much working across the aisle. And, what has happened in the last two years, because of the issues that have come up and the circumstances, there has been a lot of bipartisan interaction and results. For example, we got the expansion of Medicaid passed; we killed bad bills like [SB] 1062. So all of those are hopeful signs to me.
That does strengthen my convictions about participation by individuals in the process. I see more people stepping up, being involved. When I see this, it’s not hopeless.
Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do you explain to constituents the unique nature of abortion care and the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients?
I think that’s very easily explained, due to the past behavior of those people who opposed an individual’s right to choose. By that, I mean their behavior in the past has been to picket medical facilities, harass women who are perhaps alone or nearly alone, going in for advice or procedures or whatever. The harassment has been horrible. Continue reading