Abortion: What’s Faith Got to Do with It?

sunsetPlenty, actually. Whenever I hear a politician claiming he or she is a person of faith, I cringe. All too often it’s followed by the words: “I believe in the sanctity of all life, which is why I’m against abortions and will work to defund Planned Parenthood.”

In one sense, faith is a belief in a supreme being or in a particular religion. Not all religions are opposed to abortion, however. A 2013 Pew Research article reveals a wide range of opinions.

Traditional Judaism, for example, approves abortion as “a means of safeguarding the life and well-being of a mother.” Most of the branches openly support a woman’s right to safe and accessible abortions.


Let’s build bridges across our beliefs, instead of building ideological walls between one another.


Though Buddhism has no official position on abortion, many Buddhists hold the belief that human life begins at conception and that, therefore, abortion is morally wrong. However, in Japan, with a large Buddhist population, abortions are common.

Traditional Hinduism condemns abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. It follows the general value system “that the correct course of action in any given situation is the one that causes the least harm to those involved.”

Although Islamic scholars disagree over exactly when life begins or when abortion is acceptable, most view terminating a pregnancy after four months — “the point at which, in Islam, a fetus is thought to become a living soul” — as not permissible. Many also believe that, prior to four months, abortions should only be permitted in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Scott Prior for State Senator, LD 16

The Arizona primary election takes place TODAY! Find your polling location here. 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 today’s primary election, you need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Scott Prior cropped scaledScott Prior is resilient and tenacious in his commitment to underrepresented citizens. He is running for the state Senate in Arizona’s Legislative District 16 for the third time. He previously ran in 2012 and 2014, at which time he shared his thoughts with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA). PPAA has endorsed Mr. Prior each time because as a Democrat who is independent-minded, he places the interest of people over the interest of profit. He is committed to individual freedom and believes that human dignity should come before corporate, government, or religious interests. Mr. Prior’s wife is running in the same district for the state House of Representatives. Scott and Cara have been married 20 years and live in Apache Junction. They are both committed to reproductive justice.


“Sex education should be age-appropriate and provided in schools.”


Legislative District 16 includes Apache Junction, East Mesa, Gold Canyon, and northern San Tan Valley. Mr. Prior will be running against Republican David Farnsworth. Sen. Farnsworth believes that abortions should always be illegal and does not believe that the Arizona government should fund clinics and medical facilities that provide abortion services. Sen. Farnsworth also does not support sex education in schools, increasing funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy, the inclusion of sexual orientation in Arizona’s anti-discrimination laws, or recognizing same-sex marriages.

On July 8, 2016, Mr. Prior generously took time to share his thoughts with PPAA again via Skype, sharing why he is more determined than ever to win this election.

Since PPAA last spoke with you, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown? What has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

The serious mistakes made over the last two years by the state Legislature have made me even more resolved to make a difference in the state of Arizona. Funding for schools has been slashed while corporate tax breaks and funding for private prisons have been increased. I do not want to see what has happened in Kansas happen in Arizona. In Kansas, there has not been enough money to keep the schools open the entire year.

As a secular humanist, I do not believe or follow any religion. It is unacceptable for the Phoenix City Council and the Arizona Legislature to deny all but Judeo-Christian faiths from taking part in opening invocations. It is important that we all understand the importance of the separation of church and state. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Celeste Plumlee for State Representative, LD 26

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. 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 primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Celeste Plumlee scaledCeleste Plumlee is an exciting new face in the Arizona House of Representatives, having been appointed to fill Andrew Sherwood’s seat after he ascended to the state Senate to take Ed Ableser’s place. From her position in the House, Rep. Plumlee represents Legislative District 26, which includes Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, in addition to her home town of Tempe.


“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to health care, and there is no way a statewide health policy can be applicable to all people equally.”


Despite only serving one session in the House so far, she has proven herself to be a resolute advocate for reproductive health and justice. Her voting record reveals that she refused to support bad bills like HB 2599, which lays the groundwork for Arizona to deny Medicaid recipients from choosing Planned Parenthood for their preventive health services, and SB 1324, which put severe restrictions around the use of medication abortion.

In addition to her support for access to contraception and abortion, equality is an important plank in her platform. The concept of “equality” includes protecting the rights of members of marginalized communities, from LGBTQ folks to people of color — not to mention the importance of equal pay for equal work, and a call to close the pay gap between male and female workers. For these reasons and more, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona enthusiastically endorse Rep. Plumlee for reelection to the Arizona House of Representatives.

Rep. Plumlee generously took the time to answer our questions on July 19, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

I first got interested in public policy in graduate school, when I realized I had a unique perspective as a single mother and survivor of domestic violence who has utilized public assistance to raise my children through tough times. I have master of social work and master of public administration degrees from Arizona State University, and have a great deal to contribute to the Legislature through my experience and education. I am the mom of two teenagers and have dedicated my volunteer time to helping educate people about domestic and sexual violence and encouraging other survivors to speak out. I am also a trained facilitator for a comprehensive sexuality education program and have advocated for similar programs being used in public schools for years. I am passionate about social justice and putting an end to gender-based violence, and actively work to do whatever I can towards those goals. Continue reading

Center for Arizona Policy: A Witches’ Brew of Spine-Tingling Politics and Legislation

Photo: Ryan Godfrey

For nearly 20 years, CAP has been injecting their extreme interpretations of Christian doctrine into Arizona law. Photo: Ryan Godfrey

The Center for Arizona Policy is a far-right Christian organization that was founded in 1995. According to its mission statement:

Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty.

Its political purpose is stated in the next sentence:

The fact is, what happens at the state Capitol impacts real lives. CAP works with state legislators and other elected officials at all levels of government to ensure that public policy promotes foundational principles.

Its founding president, and its second and current president Cathi Herrod, are both lawyers, and Herrod was a lawyer on staff before becoming president. Therefore it is no surprise that CAP is more than a lobbying group — they actually write legislation, including the vetoed SB 1062, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ customers under the guise of religious freedom.

They are proud of the legislation they have written or supported over the years. A Huffington Post report from February 2014 says:

Since the group’s 1995 establishment, 123 CAP-supported measures have been signed into law, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod. Twenty-nine bills backed by CAP have been vetoed by various Arizona governors after being passed by the state legislature.

Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was just overturned in federal court. Cathi Herrod responded to the the decision with a post on CAP’s Foundations blog.

Today, we grieve. We grieve for the children who now have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. We mourn the loss of a culture and its moral foundation. We mourn a culture that continues to turn its back on God and His principles.

But we do not despair. We do not throw in the towel. We do not give up.

She goes on to cite the religious right activism spawned by Roe v. Wade, and predicts a similar movement building up against same-sex marriage.

A rather terrifying thought, given the terrorism and deaths the anti-abortion movement has generated. Continue reading

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

Meet Our Candidates: Andrew Sherwood for State Representative, LD 26

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

SB1062 Protest Andrew SherwoodAndrew Sherwood just completed his first term representing his district in the Arizona House of Representatives, during which time he came out swinging against bills that were designed to marginalize the LGBTQ population and harass patients seeking reproductive health services. The 26th legislative district covers parts of Tempe and Mesa, and is currently represented in the House by both Mr. Sherwood and his seatmate Juan Mendez, both of whom have received Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement for their commitment to reproductive justice, equality, and education.

Mr. Sherwood is an Arizona native whose political involvement stretches back before his election to the House. In 2011, he helped spearhead the Democratic Party’s successful recall efforts to oust Russell Pearce (who you may remember as the architect of SB 1070, or more recently for his offensive remarks advocating for the forced sterilization of poor women). He is an Arizona State University graduate who has made LD 26 his home.

Andrew Sherwood kindly spoke to us over the telephone on October 3, 2014.


“I oppose discrimination in all forms, and the reason that I opposed [SB 1062] was that the ability to exclude someone from commerce is the ability to exclude them from society.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I got involved in politics in 2006. I started working on a campaign back in 2008; I ran my first campaign in 2010. I was elected in 2012, and so I’ve been serving for the last two years and I’m up for reelection. I’ve worked on both sides of the political equation, so I’ve been involved in the party apparatus as well as the elected-official side. I think that having worked on both sides makes me better at each of the others, if that makes sense.

Before politics I worked in the private sector as well: I ran a small business, I’ve been a business executive. I’m from Tucson, Arizona. I moved to Phoenix, in Tempe, so that I could go to Arizona State University. And I feel really lucky to have gone to ASU. It was a life-changing experience. I’m one of those students that didn’t expect their whole life to go to college, and so for me when I had the opportunity to do it, it didn’t just provide for me all the usual opportunities that colleges do, it provided the mindset, which is the ability to have this economic mobility. And that’s why I’ve always run campaigns with a heavy emphasis on education.

In my personal life, I love animals, I love sports, I like walking dogs, I like rock climbing, I like boxing, and of course there’s not much time for any of these things anymore now that I spend almost all of my time in politics. I’ve never missed a vote, I’ve never missed a day at work, and I put about 80 to 100 hours a week into the Capitol. So I work very hard at this job.

Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

Not only did I vote against it, but I had pretty strong oral arguments against that bill. I’m definitely in strong opposition to House Bill 2284. I felt that this was a bill that, the result could be the intimidation and harassment of women, and I oppose that. Continue reading

BREAKING: Look for Return of SB 1062 if Doug Ducey Wins, azcentral.com Predicts

Photo: Devon Christopher Adams

Photo: Devon Christopher Adams

Editor’s Note: The following article was originally posted on azcentral.com at 4:53 p.m. MST on August 27, 2014. It was authored by Arizona Republic columnist Linda Valdez, and can be found here.

On Election Day, Tempe took one step toward expanding LGBT rights and Arizona potentially took a giant leap back by nominating Doug Ducey as GOP candidate for governor.

If Ducey becomes governor, institutional discrimination could become law when Cathi Herrod returns with “SB 1062, The Sequel.”

Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy is a key Ducey supporter, who lists his commitment to “traditional marriage” as one of the reasons.

She was a top backer of SB 1062, which would have allowed a business to deny service based on religious beliefs. It was a direct assault on the LGBT community, and the outcry against it led to Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto.

Herrod called the veto “a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.”

She said it was vindication for SB 1062 when the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. The court said employers could not be mandated to provide contraception in violation of their religious views.

You can bet SB 1062 will be back in the Arizona Legislature next session.

If Ducey is governor, will he cross a key supporter and veto it?

The return of SB 1062 may be just the start.

Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy’s website says “No scientific evidence has been found to prove a genetic cause for homosexuality. . . . Even if a specific genetic marker were found which indicates a propensity towards homosexuality, it is hardly a case for creating special rights for homosexuals. Whereas race is based on physical, outward characteristics visible to all, homosexuality is a behavior, and behaviors are not visibly apparent to another person. Behaviors can also be modified or even stopped.”

In other words, back in the closet, people.

As for Tempe: It voted to change its charter, becoming the first Arizona city to protect its employees from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. One step forward that could be negated at the state level.