An Inhuman Industry: Responding to Sex Trafficking in Arizona

Every year, from late January to mid-February, the city of Tucson hosts upward of 50,000 visitors, as the annual Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase — more commonly known as the Tucson Gem Show — draws exhibitors, traders, and tourists from around the globe. It is the biggest show of its kind, and the economic impact is considerable. This year’s show, which officially wrapped last week, was projected to bring $120 million in spending to local businesses.


Effective sex education arms young people with information about consent, negotiating proper boundaries, and forming healthy relationships.


In recent years, media coverage has also put the Gem Show in the spotlight for its alleged impact on an underground economy. The annual event has become a news hook for activists, victim advocates, and social workers who believe it serves as a boon to the nation’s $3 billion sex-trafficking industry.

Although the Arizona Republic rated the claim as “mostly false” when Martha McSally made it in 2015 — noting that evidence was mostly anecdotal — the idea that large events like the Gem Show lead to a spike in sex trafficking has remained a popular talking point. For example, at an awareness event last year, held shortly before the Gem Show’s kick-off, Tucson city council member Steve Kozachik commented, “Every time you have an outside event coming to any community, whether it be a sporting event or the gem show, the numbers of trafficking incidents spike.” He added, “That means the young in this community are vulnerable.”

Federal law defines sex trafficking as recruiting, harboring, transporting, or otherwise inducing a person to perform a commercial sex act against their will — or before they are legally old enough to consent. Last year, KGUN9 suggested that, during the show, as many as 100 women are “sold for sex” every night. The report, however, did not specify if it was referring to commercial sex as a whole or to trafficked sex exclusively — and whatever role the Gem Show plays in the trade is also a murky subject. Continue reading

2018: A Quick Look at What’s Ahead

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

We made it! We’ve survived a year under a regime keen on dismantling democracy, marginalizing many of our most vulnerable neighbors, and draining the swamp. Apparently, the swamp has been drained to release some of its inhabitants to serve as cabinet secretaries, presidential advisors, and political appointees. Despite the abuses to our civil liberties we endured on a weekly — even daily — basis, we have one good thing to say: This administration’s ability to galvanize the grassroots of the Resistance is impressive, and 2018 is poised to be another cage match of democratic ideals against despotic rhetoric.

The Trump Administration’s first year has been a whirlwind in which we found ourselves focused on survival, protecting our most vulnerable, and fighting back; and a quick assessment would show success on each front. From the millions of calls and emails generated to protect the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); to Jane Doe’s legal victory to obtain an abortion while in ICE custody; to the millions who marched for women, science, truth, and the environment. So 2018 is all set for some intense campaigning as we head into midterm elections and weather attacks from a misinformed opposition, but look forward to some much-needed victories in November! Continue reading

All Politics Is Local

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Voting is about civic engagement and civic responsibility, an ideal showcased in city elections happening now across the state. Specifically, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA) have been working on the city council races in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, educating our supporters in those cities about their candidates and how they stand on the issues central to PPAA’s mission.

State legislators, school board members, and county governments are vital to our local communities’ thriving. Local ordinances are the front lines of how laws are administered and enforced, along with providing constituents access to community resources. Currently, city elections are happening and it’s important to get folks out to vote. Here’s an overview of our August primary races.

In Phoenix, four city council members are up for reelection, with three out of four of these seats being uncontested (which means the incumbent automatically wins). So Jim Waring (District 2), Laura Pastor (District 4), and Kate Gallego (District 8) have a clear path to certain victory on August 29 – Election Day! Although in uncontested races, incumbents Laura Pastor and Kate Gallego are endorsed by PPAA. Laura and Kate have long been supporters of Planned Parenthood and have served with integrity and grace on the Phoenix City Council.

In District 6, the incumbent, Sal DiCiccio, is facing a challenger. Early voting started on August 2 and Kevin Patterson is working hard to get every vote he can. As the only contested seat this cycle, the focus of August has been on this race. Kevin is a PPAA-endorsed candidate and has had volunteer support from a great group of PPAA supporters! The dedication of Planned Parenthood volunteers to go door to door for a city council race in 110 degree heat is INSPIRING! Led by PPAA volunteer Kate Fischer, a team of dedicated volunteers has talked with hundreds of voters about Election Day. When phone calls weren’t working, Kate knew she had to take it to the streets. It’s been shown that face-to-face conversations with voters leave a lasting impression and are key to getting that vote. We’re looking forward to celebrating with Team Patterson!

In Tucson, there’s a gluttony of riches in Ward 3, where PPAA endorsed each of these candidates: Paul Durham, Felicia Chew, and Tom Tronsdal. All three progressive candidates have an array of issues they’re passionate about; trusting women to make their own decisions and not taking away health care for millions of people are two of those issues. Having elected officials who understand the role Planned Parenthood plays in keeping communities healthy is vital to Planned Parenthood’s survival. (Candidates in Ward 5 and Ward 6 did not initiate any interest in PPAA’s support.)

In Yuma, PPAA has endorsed Karen Watts in the race for six at-large seats on the Yuma City Council. As a nurse practitioner, Karen understands the needs in the community and can bring resources to under-served communities. In addition, there are currently zero women serving on the Yuma City Council. Zero out of six. It’s time for Yuma to reflect their constituents by electing a more representative council.


Make sure to vote by Election Day: August 29! Click on the cities above for city-specific election information!

Meet Our Candidates: Kevin Patterson for Phoenix City Council District 6

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 29, 2017. 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. In order to vote in the primary election, you must be registered to vote by July 31. Early voting begins on August 2. Make your voice heard in 2017!

Kevin PattersonKevin Patterson is running for a seat on the Phoenix City Council — specifically for District 6. Mr. Patterson is the director of talent management and leadership development for Banner Health, the largest employer in Phoenix. Mr. Patterson has spent his life advocating for marginalized constituencies and building consensus for common-sense solutions to some of our state’s problems. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed Mr. Patterson because of his strong support for reproductive health care.


“Health care is a human right.”


On July 3, I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Patterson about his positions on health care advocacy, as well as his support of the LGBTQ community.

What motivated you to run for Phoenix City Council?

I am running for Phoenix City Council because I want my kids to grow up in a city where they feel safe, are provided opportunities to thrive, and [are] respected for their diversity. The national rhetoric right now is so divisive and combative that it makes me nervous to think about the type of world they will grow up in if more consensus-building policies aren’t put in place. I believe that change happens at home and in our communities on the local level. For our neighborhoods, I would like to create opportunities for responsible economic growth, safe neighborhoods, efficient public resources. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Deja Foxx

    Let’s kick this thing off with some good news — two states have passed laws making it easier for women to access birth control! Yay! (Elite Daily)

  • If you live in the Phoenix metro area, you may wanna check out this handy map on the prevalence of STDs in your ZIP code! (ABC 15)
  • In other local news, Tucson teen Deja Foxx is a fearless powerhouse. She courageously advocates for others, heroically stood up to Sen. Jeff Flake, and sings the praises of Planned Parenthood every chance she gets. We are SO in awe of her and SO thankful for her advocacy! (WaPo)
  • Extensive research by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows there are broad economic benefits of increased contraception use — not just for women but for society overall. (Salon)
  • Of course sexism played a huge role in Hillary’s 2016 election loss. (XX Factor)
  • Rewire‘s Yamani Hernandez explains why framing abortion as an economic issue that affects our survival may be the only way to make people understand how crucial our right to this choice is. (Rewire)
  • Texas’ maternal mortality rate doubled over a two-year period. Not coincidentally, this was the same two-year period of time in which the state gutted Planned Parenthood and forced most of our health centers in the state to close. Additionally, more than half of all births in Texas are paid for by Medicaid, but coverage for new mothers ends just 60 days after childbirth. The majority of the 189 maternal deaths the task force looked at from 2011 to 2012 occurred after the 60-day mark. (Texas Observer)
  • Texas also has the highest birth rate in the U.S. (more than half paid for through Medicaid), and one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. Medicaid births — most likely unintended pregnancies — rose in areas where access to PP was barred. (Austin Chronicle)
  • And in case you were wondering, Texas is not done clobbering reproductive options and rights. Their governor just signed what is being described as a “sweeping anti-abortion law.” (The Cut)
  • The latest medical science discovery: A vaginal gel containing tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug used to treat HIV infection, was three times as effective at preventing HIV in women who had healthy vaginal bacterial communities as it was in women with a less beneficial mix. (Science News)
  • Gotta love this headline: “President Who Bragged About Extramarital Sex Appoints Top Abstinence Advocate to HHS” (XX Factor)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • The Congressional Budget Office just released its scoring of “Trumpcare.” As anyone with half a wit about them presumed, it’s not favorable. And it’s not a good look for the GOP. Twenty-three million Americans stand to lose their health care coverage over a 10-year period. Others, with chronic illnesses and preexisting conditions, would pay much, much more for health care OR lose it altogether. But hey, at least rich, healthy people would be OK and premiums for some will drop in price simply because the plans cover less. Tell me again how this is a win for the majority of Americans? The health and welfare of MILLIONS of people are being sacrificed so the wealthy can have even MORE of a financial advantage? (WaPo)
  • Also in the headlines re: “Trumpcare Is Astronomically Bad”: “GOP health-care bill could cost women $1,000 more per month for ‘maternity’ insurance coverage — and even more when they have kids.” And again I’ll remind you, this is all being done so rich people can be more rich. Please don’t ever forget that important fact. (CNBC)
  • Not only should the left NOT abandon so-called “identity politics,” women of color should lead the identity politics movement. OUR issues represent the future direction of progressive politics! (Salon)
  • Why does the gender pay gap persist? Motherhood. (NY Times)
  • Planned Parenthood Arizona allowed an Allure Magazine writer to spend three days following staff and patients at our Maryvale clinic in Phoenix serving Title X and Medicaid patients. Women’s stories are so powerful. (Allure)
  • Meanwhile, Iowa has cut Planned Parenthood off from federal Medicaid reimbursements and we are being forced to close four clinics there. So disappointing and disheartening for the people who rely on our care. (Mother Jones)
  • If you thought 45’s administration couldn’t get any crueler, buckle up. The budget he released earlier this week would cut off food for poor people who have too many kids. So let’s put this into perspective. They want to make it harder to prevent pregnancy by eliminating poor people’s access to Planned Parenthood by cutting us off from federal Medicaid dollars. They want to make it impossible to abort a pregnancy a woman does not want or cannot afford. And then if you have the misfortune of being economically disadvantaged but have multiple children, they want to starve them to death. Wow. Could these people BE any more pro-life? (WaPo)
  • The administration is cool with wasting $277 million on abstinence-only education though — despite tons of evidence it’s ineffective! (Bustle)
  • There’s Been a Huge Increase in Campus Sex Assaults. Why?! (The Daily Beast)
  • Danielle Ofri, a physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York, wrote a terrific piece for Slate about the history of our broken health care system and how times and opinions about health care being a basic human right in this country are a’changing. Universal health care, here we come? (Slate)
  • The GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood in Iowa are hitting low-income women especially hard. (Salon)
  • For more than 10 years, women around the world have had access to online abortion. It’s time for the U.S. to catch up. (HuffPo)
  • We’ve said it a million times and we’re going to continue to say it as the evidence mounts: Federally qualified health centers CANNOT step in seamlessly to provide the care Planned Parenthood does. Our absence would harm millions of people for the foreseeable future. To quote the great Beyonce, we are IRREPLACEABLE.  (Guttmacher)
  • Even in a state as “blue” as California, abortion can be hard to come by for many women. (Rewire)
  • 45’s administration has done everything under the sun to wage war against women’s health, our economic livelihoods, and our futures. (WaPo)
  • Let’s end this on a funny note. An anonymous “fetus” wrote a letter to Mick Mulvaney — 45’s penny-pinching budget director who thinks the rich should get to pay obscenely low taxes while “the poors” suffer without medical care and food stamps. Nothing like satire from the unborn! Ha! (Slate XX Factor)

April 10 Is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day

The following is a guest post by Planned Parenthood Arizona’s Director of Education Vicki Hadd-Wissler, M.A.

Young people born in the 1980s belong to the first generation to have never known a world without HIV and AIDS. The numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are alarming, with young people between the ages of 13 and 29 accounting for almost 40 percent of new HIV infections in the United States! In Arizona, people ages 25 to 29 had the highest infection rate (28.1 per 100,000), and people ages 20 to 24 come in second with 26.1 per 100,000. It is estimated that 13 percent of those infected with HIV (in all age groups) are unaware they are infected — and, among HIV-positive youth ages 18 to 24, an estimated 44 percent are unaware of their status.


Help the next generation know a world where AIDS no longer poses a threat to a vibrant, healthy future.


National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) on April 10 provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the importance of prevention, promote HIV testing, and help reduce the stigma often associated with HIV and STDs in general.

First organized in 2013 by Advocates for Youth, NYHAAD is intended to serve as an annual wake-up call to organize and educate young people about HIV and AIDS, and press leaders for investments in medical advancements and prevention strategies. The observance has received less attention nationally this year than in past years — no doubt due to the need to focus on saving the Affordable Care Act. But we can still be activists on the issue of HIV awareness. All of us have a young person(s) in our lives who we care deeply about. Let’s mark our calendars for April 10 as a day to commit to having a conversation with them to share important, life-enhancing information. Continue reading