A Conversation With Faye Wattleton: Part 2, Belief and Mission

Ms. Wattleton speaks out against George H.W. Bush’s gag rule, which banned any mention of abortion in federally funded family-planning programs.

Faye Wattleton was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992. She was generous enough to speak to me on January 7, 2013, and throughout the month of February we’ll be sharing her experiences and perspectives in observance of Black History Month. In this second installment, we discuss her religious beliefs and their influence on her work, which came up often in our conversation.

[R]eligion was a strong influence during Faye Wattleton’s childhood and remains so in her adult life. She grew up in a fundamentalist family, and that religion, along with her experiences as a nurse, brought her to a belief in individual freedom that was absolute, including the conviction that every woman has the right to make her own reproductive choices.

When I asked about her work for reproductive rights, she said, “My view about that is perhaps most reflective of my religious upbringing, with respect to who shall judge. Judge not that you be not judged.”

“Our reproduction is still a proxy for the larger question of our full status as human beings and as citizens.”

That religious upbringing was shaped by the fact that her mother was an ordained minister in the Church of God, and her calling determined the course of Wattleton family life. While Faye was still little, this calling took her and her parents away from St. Louis and the safety of extended family. When she reached school age, her parents left her with families within the church, each year in a different place. During this time, she learned to rely on herself and think independently, perhaps preparing her to be a leader while keeping her within the protective bubble of the greater Church of God community.

The Church of God is Christian, Protestant, foundational, evangelical, and charismatic. Members believe in prayer, the inerrancy and literal truth of the Bible, personal salvation, and the unique, individual revelation of the Holy Spirit.* Ms. Wattleton often heard her mother preach and witnessed the emotional responses of her listeners in churches and revival meetings.

While her mother evangelized, bringing others to what she saw as the only way to God, Ms. Wattleton’s sense of mission came from the conviction that each person acts within unique life circumstances that must be respected. When I asked about this difference between her mother and herself, she replied that it “probably was due to my early training as a nurse. I went to college as a 16-year-old, graduated at 20. And so I was really deeply influenced by my professional training and exposure [to other people’s lives and problems]. It’s possible that, had I chosen a different profession, I may have seen life differently, but this is the profession that I chose.” Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Carol Lokare for State Representative, LD 21

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, and early voting started 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.” Make your voice heard in 2012!

[E]arlier this month we profiled Dr. Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, as well as Jo Holt, a retired biochemist running for the state Senate. And last month we spotlighted Dr. Eric Meyer, a physician with experience in emergency medicine, who is running for the Arizona House of Representatives. Another candidate who would bring scientific and medical expertise to the Arizona Legislature is Carol Lokare. As an experienced registered nurse, Lokare understands both the factual basis (or lack thereof) for family planning legislation as well as the human side of the equation: how such legislation would impact people’s lives.

Lokare is currently seeking to represent Legislative District 21 — an area that includes El Mirage, Peoria, and part of Glendale — in the Arizona House of Representatives. She took the time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on October 17, 2012.

“I am someone who can be trusted to look out for women and families, someone who will advocate for affordable, comprehensive, easily accessible health care.”

Tell us a little bit about your background.

For the past 32 years I have worked as a registered nurse. I am a 1980 graduate of Phoenix College’s nursing program and a 1984 graduate of the University of Colorado Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Program. I have a varied background in the nursing field, having worked as a bedside nurse; manager of a hospital medical unit in Los Gatos, California; school nurse; and as a nurse practitioner in a geriatric practice in Sun City, Arizona. I recently took a leave of absence as a cardiac care nurse at Banner Boswell Hospital in Sun City to devote time and attention to my campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives, LD 21. I also have a bachelor of science degree in political science from Arizona State University.

I have been married to my husband, Sanjay, for 25 years, and we have three children, a son and two daughters.

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 reproductive health care services?

Because of my background in the health care field this is a question that I feel can be answered in a simple and straightforward way. I cannot think of one time in the last 32 years where I have felt it necessary for any elected government official to step in and make a health care decision for a patient. All health care decisions can and should be made by a patient, his/her physician, and concerned family, without meddlesome interference by outsiders. Continue reading