Meet Our Candidates: Felecia Rotellini for Arizona Attorney General

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

felecia-rotellini scaledFelecia Rotellini is running for Arizona attorney general. The role of Arizona’s attorney general is to serve as chief legal officer on behalf of the state of Arizona. She boasts nearly 30 years of prosecutorial experience, including in her current role as a prosecutor for a private law firm in Phoenix and her previous position as superintendent of the State Banking Department in Arizona under Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Ms. Rotellini’s opponent is Mark Brnovich, who publicly spoke out in favor of businesses instead of people during the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, which eventually allowed businesses to exclude contraception from the health insurance plans they provide their employees on the grounds of religious beliefs. Putting faith before the law, Brnovich has made clear his intention to legally protect every demographic but women when he states, “Whether that be protecting the rights of the unborn, children, seniors, or our veterans, we have a solemn obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. My faith and my experience as a prosecutor teaches me that.” Brnovich goes further in implying that he feels no obligation to protect and defend laws that concern women when he specifies: “We also have an obligation to protect and defend our laws that concern the unborn.”

Ms. Rotellini takes a broader approach to inclusiveness as she seeks to uphold the law to protect all Arizonans, including members of the LGBTQ community. As Arizona’s attorney general, she pledges to “support equal protection under the law for one and all, with no exceptions.”

Ms. Rotellini was kind enough to speak with us on October 28, 2014.


“I’m disappointed that my opponent supports a new version of SB 1062 to legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I have lived in Arizona for 28 years; I’ve been a practicing attorney for 28 years. Eleven of those have been in the private sector as a litigation attorney, and 17 of those years as a public lawyer. I worked as a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office for 13 years in both the civil and criminal divisions from 1992 to 2005. And then I ran the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions as superintendent in the cabinet of Gov. Napolitano and also Gov. Brewer. I was in that job from 2006 to 2009. Over 17 years, I was in uninterrupted public service. I had the opportunity to work primarily in financial fraud, consumer fraud, and senior fraud.

I have had some very big cases. Because of my background as a trial lawyer, I did jury trials in my civil practice from 1986 to 1992. I was the lead lawyer for the state against Arthur Andersen, the accounting giant, for the failed audits of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona, where there were 11,000 investors who lost their retirements, and we were able to return $217 million to the victims, mostly working-class and senior citizens. Continue reading

Let’s Talk Contraception: Birth Control Pills — Not Just for Preventing Pregnancy

pillThere has been a lot of political posturing recently about whether the government should require health insurance to provide birth control without a co-pay as part of a preventive health care package. So many people, including politicians, can only “see” the contraceptive side, which is pretty important, by the way. Approximately 15.8 in 100,000 women in the United States die from pregnancy or pregnancy-related issues yearly, and that number has doubled in the past 25 years. We have one of the worst maternal death rates of all developed nations, right near the bottom of the list.


Birth control pills can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including painful periods, acne, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.


But putting all that aside, let’s look at the how oral contraceptives pills (OCPs) are actually used in this country, and for what reasons besides contraception. You may argue that many birth control pills are only approved for contraception purposes by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so other uses are not valid. But many drugs that may have narrow conditions of approved use are often prescribed off-label by physicians when they have data and information about how effective they can be for other conditions where not much else works.

According to a 2011 study using data from the 2006–2008 National Survey for Family Growth, the Guttmacher Institute reported that 14 percent of all women using birth control pills — that’s 1.5 million women — use them for purposes other than preventing pregnancy. Granted, 86 percent of OCP users report using them for birth control. But over the years, these OCPs have helped many people as treatments for dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, endometriosis, menstrual-related migraines, acne, uterine fibroids, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Continue reading

Celebrating Affordable and Accessible Contraception

plannedparenthoodactionorgThe following guest post comes to us via Morganne Rosenhaus, community engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

How appropriate that, today, World Contraception Day is only five days before the health insurance exchange opens. Not only can we celebrate the advances we have made in contraceptive development over the years, but we can also rejoice around the fact that birth control is now affordable and accessible to even more women.


Obamacare allows you to visit Planned Parenthood for the same preventive health care  — with no co-pays!


Let’s start by celebrating the fact that women have options. Between rings, patches, pills, injections, IUDs (intrauterine devices), and implants — a woman can find a method that works best for her lifestyle. Of course, the search for the “perfect” method will continue — the contraceptive that not only prevents pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but also tastes like chocolate. Fingers crossed!

Next, let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that women have access to these methods. Through the Affordable Care Act (also known as health care reform or Obamacare), all health insurance plans must provide specific, no-cost, preventive health care coverage to women, which includes … drum roll … birth control!

Free birth control?!

On August 1, 2012, Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives became available to women for free (or without co-pay), and starting in January 2014, this benefit will apply to most private health insurance plans and health insurance plans through the exchanges.

As with all good news, there are always a few limitations. In the case of no-cost birth control, there are two things to watch out for:

  • Women who are participants or beneficiaries in group health plans sponsored by religious employers might not be able to access this benefit. Why? As of August 1, 2013, group health plans established or maintained by certain religious employers, and insurance coverage provided in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive services.
  • Yes, insurance companies are required to have all FDA-approved methods of contraceptives available. However, the specific brand of birth control pills that you like might be covered by one health care insurance plan and not another. It depends …

Some people might be thinking, “This is a great benefit, but I don’t have insurance, so it doesn’t really do me any good.”

Not true! The exciting news is, if you don’t have any kind of health insurance, the health insurance exchange opens on October 1, only five days from now. Through the health insurance exchange, you can find a plan that fits your needs and your budget. Plus, no matter what level of health insurance you choose, birth control without co-pay is included. Whew!

Now you might be thinking, “If I have health insurance, I guess I don’t need to come to Planned Parenthood anymore.”

Not true! Planned Parenthood accepts most insurance plans, both through the health insurance exchanges and private insurance. Whether you have insurance or not, Planned Parenthood is here for you.

Happy World Contraception Day, and cheers to more accessible and affordable contraception here in the United States!

Read more about Obamacare here: www.plannedparenthood.org/healthinsurance

Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does, Part 17: Primary Care Services

doctorWelcome to the latest installment of “Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does,” a series on Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s blog that highlights Planned Parenthood’s diverse array of services — the ones Jon Kyl never knew about.


The following guest post comes to us via Morganne Rosenhaus, community engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Feeling a little under the weather with a sore throat, aches, and stuffy nose? In need of a medical professional to tell you what the rash all over your arms might be or help you make a plan to stop smoking? These are the moments when you visit a primary care physician, right?


Planned Parenthood Arizona now provides primary care, a necessary service for the community.


Well, what happens when you can’t find a primary care physician in your area or you find one but he or she isn’t taking any new patients? What happens if you don’t have insurance to cover the visit in the first place? You might get some over-the-counter medication to help with the stuffy nose, you might go to the hospital because that rash is not looking any better, but emergency department visits can be expensive. Or maybe you don’t do anything at all.

Starting this month, you have another option. Planned Parenthood Arizona will be offering primary care services at our Central Phoenix location. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Dr. Richard Carmona for U.S. Senator

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 Action Fund 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!

When announcing Dr. Richard Carmona’s endorsement by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, President Cecile Richards said that “Arizona women need a champion who has long fought to protect and promote women’s health representing them in Washington” — and as a former U.S. surgeon general, Carmona is uniquely positioned to advocate for scientifically driven, rather than agenda-driven, policies on health and medicine.


“Health care should not be politicized.”


Carmona already has experience fighting for evidence-based health policy in an increasingly polarized political climate. After leaving his position as surgeon general, Carmona testified before Congress that the George W. Bush administration continually hampered his attempts to present scientifically sound public health policy when it conflicted with their political agenda. As Carmona said in his testimony, the Bush administration silenced him on many issues, including emergency contraception and comprehensive sex education — and the public was denied access to the latest unbiased evidence on important public health issues.

Carmona is running against Republican challenger Jeff Flake to succeed Jon Kyl as U.S. senator from Arizona. Flake’s congressional voting record is problematic, and includes support for an amendment to the Affordable Care Act to prohibit abortion coverage, support for defunding Planned Parenthood, and a vote against expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

As a U.S. senator, Carmona can bring his lifetime of experience as a physician and public-health expert to the legislature. When it comes to our medical care, no matter our political affiliations, we all need access to the best scientific evidence, and we need someone who will be a champion for our health in the U.S. Senate.

Dr. Carmona generously took time for an interview with us via telephone on October 3, 2012.


Many of us, including myself, are becoming increasingly concerned about the hostility toward science exhibited by some of our current lawmakers. What can you do to inject reason and scientific evidence into an increasingly politicized discourse about public health?

Well, first and foremost, if you remember my tenure as surgeon general, I had to do that. There was a lot of ideological, nonscientific-driven sentiment, and when necessary I stood up and I addressed the issues appropriately. It wasn’t a perfect world, especially when you have many of those ideologues thinking differently, but nevertheless, I will do the same thing as a senator.

And I think I enter the Senate with, if you will, the imprimatur of being a surgeon general and a trauma surgeon and a registered nurse and a paramedic. I bring all those years of cumulative science to the table as I discuss things with my colleagues. And although they may be ideologically driven, and I will certainly acknowledge their personal beliefs, that’s not science and it’s not fact. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Butler for State Representative, LD 25

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!

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, David Butler came to Arizona in 1993 with a degree in political science from Ohio State University and an interest in politics that has spurred his involvement in many campaigns. Earlier this year Butler launched his own campaign, seeking to represent Legislative District 25 in the House of Representatives. Located in Maricopa County, LD 25 includes much of Mesa, where Butler lives with his wife Vivian.


“A woman, not politicians, should make the informed decisions when it comes to her own reproductive rights.”


Because of his positions on women’s health and choice issues, Butler has received an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. He generously took the time for an interview with PPAA on September 26, 2012.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio into a typical middle class family. I graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.A. degree. I majored in political science. I moved to Arizona in 1993. I met Vivian and we were married in 2000. Between us we have four grown children and nine grandchildren. I am a self-employed wholesale distributor and sell products to local grocery chains.

You’re running against Rep. Justin Olson, who sponsored HB2800, which Planned Parenthood called a bill that “attempts to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing services to AHCCCS and Title X patients and prohibits any governmental entity from entering into a contract with or making a grant for family planning to any organization that performs abortions.” How would you respond to Olson’s involvement with this bill?

I would respond to Rep. Olson’s involvement in HB2800 by stating that the bill is an invasion of women’s reproductive rights. I believe that it is wrong to prevent Medicaid-eligible women from seeking routine preventive services, even from providers that also offer abortions. A woman, not politicians, should make the informed decisions when it comes to her own reproductive rights. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ed Ableser for State Senator, LD 26

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!

Ed Ableser is running for an Arizona State Senate seat in the new Legislative District 26, which covers Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He has served as a state senator and is the current state representative from Legislative District 17. Ableser received his bachelor’s degree in political science and Chinese, as well as his master’s degree in counseling, from Arizona State University. He is now working to complete his Ph.D. in justice and social inquiry and is a mental-health counselor in the public school system. He also owns a business and works as a counselor for Ableser Family Counseling.


“This election is an important one for women’s access to reproductive health care. The fair and equal treatment of women is at stake.”


Because Ableser has spent his career serving low-income families and helping them deal with the difficult issues they face on a day-to-day basis, he believes his experience has given him “the opportunity to see what their problems are and the insight into how my constituents can be helped at the state capitol.”

In the previous legislative session, there were many bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control, funding for family planning, abortion, and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools. When asked what legislation he would like to see introduced, he said he would like to make sure the Affordable Healthcare Act gets enacted. Ableser noted that “there are hundreds of people waiting to have the basic safety net of insurance. There are too many people on the edge of bankruptcy because of the cost of medical care.”

Next, he would like to continue work on legislation to provide resources for parents who need to come to schools for parent/teacher conferences. “Some employers have fired employees for taking time off to go to their children’s school,” he said, and he would like these employees to have protection. Continue reading