The Senate Judiciary Committee: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Editor’s Note: Suzanne, an Arizona pro-choice activist, was present for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on February 27, 2012. She shares her experience watching state legislators debate House Bill 2036, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks, even in the case of fetal anomalies.

When State Sen. Paula Aboud addressed us at last year’s Planned Parenthood Legislative Day, she became emotional while speaking about her experiences in the Arizona Legislature. After having attended a recent committee hearing, I now know why this fight for our reproductive rights evokes such feelings. There, I witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let’s start with some of the positives about the hearing:

  • women and men of all ages joining together to stand up to the Legislature
  • discussing issues with like-minded people as you wait for the hearing to begin — they usually never start on time
  • watching State Sen. David Lujan, who tried to interject reasonable discussion and later tweeted, “Committee passes bill interfering in a woman’s personal medical decisions. So much for limited government”
  • supporting fellow volunteers who are willing to share their very personal and emotional stories for the public record
  • observing our state’s political system first hand (and living to tell about it)

The bad and ugly list includes:

  • Chairman Gould telling a woman she couldn’t hold up a “Choose Life” sign so she simply placed it on top of her stroller making it still very visible to the committee
  • erroneous information being presented by and to legislators
  • vilifying a doctor trying to present information based on science, not philosophy, and enduring a grilling about the money to be made in the “abortion industry”
  • one legislator referring to a constituent as “just a resident”
  • using “creative” tactics to paste the contents of this bill that couldn’t generate enough support into an unrelated bill that had already passed the House

While preserving our rights will always mean a healthy dose of the good, bad, and ugly, it’s unfair to rely on the same people to be on the front lines. So I encourage you to attend at least one legislative hearing, send an email, or make a phone call in support of reproductive rights.

The new PPAZ Activist Council is one way for you to show your support. Visit our website for more info on this volunteer-driven project and its related committees.

At the Capitol, Women Are Watching

Activists gathered at the Arizona Capitol to send the message to state legislators: Women Are Watching.

The sky was blue and the T-shirts were pink on January 9, the opening day of the 2012 Arizona State Legislature in Phoenix. More than 350 pro-choice women and men gathered in the rose garden between the House and Senate buildings to make sure Arizona legislators got the message that “Women Are Watching” and we will all be keeping track of the legislation they are putting forward, which will affect women’s access to abortion, health care, and birth control.

The legislators couldn’t get to their offices without walking through our exuberant group and being made aware that pro-choice supporters were putting them on notice.

I joined the contingency of supporters who “got on the bus” in Tucson and rode up I-10 to lend our voices and presence to those gathering at the Arizona Capitol. When we arrived and made our way through the crowd to the check-in table, I was happy to see how many people had showed up. What made me feel so hopeful was the wide representation of people: women and men, boomers and seniors, college students, and people from across the spectrum of races and cultures. Pro-choice voters from Planned Parenthood Arizona, Arizona List (thank you for the bus ride!), NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona, National Organization for Women, Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Business and Professional Women of Arizona all joined their considerable forces.

On the check-in table there were buttons, stickers, brochures, and important information sheets that listed the names, legislative districts, and office phone numbers of legislators who need to be contacted by phone or email and told that we will hold them accountable for legislation that wages war on women. Continue reading