Meet Our Candidates: Kelli Butler for State Senator, LD 28

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.” In order to vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Kelli Butler 2014Kelli Butler is an Arizona native with professional experience in the health care field and a background in community involvement in education. When her district’s current state senator, Adam Driggs, voted in favor of this year’s discriminatory SB 1062, she made the decision to run for his seat in the Senate so that her fellow LD 28 constituents could be represented by someone who would advocate for the rights and dignity of all Arizonans.

The three main components of her platform are investing in public education, creating quality jobs, and protecting children and families. To support these goals, Ms. Butler is in favor of including comprehensive sex education in schools to empower students with the information they need to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies — the latter of which will help reduce dropout rates among teenage girls. Additionally, increasing access to family planning services can help women make decisions that are best for themselves and their families.

The 28th legislative district is currently represented in the state Senate by Adam Driggs, whose record on reproductive health and rights is dismal. He has consistently voted against Planned Parenthood’s mission, supporting bills that would have reduced access to birth control and preventive services at Planned Parenthood Arizona. He has also voted for HB 2036, the infamous bill that restricts abortion to 20 weeks and defines pregnancy as starting two weeks before conception. Additionally, Driggs has signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s statement denouncing Roe v. Wade.

Kelli Butler is running to represent Legislative District 28, which includes Paradise Valley and parts of Phoenix. She took the time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on September 23, 2014.


“We must empower people with knowledge and choices so they are able to make the most responsible decisions for themselves.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a proud Arizona native, having grown up within the boundaries of District 28. I attended University of Arizona and majored in elementary education. I’ve been married for 25 years to my husband, Ben Butler, who is a general dentist in Glendale, Arizona. I help manage his dental practice and run our small business. I am familiar with the challenges of small business ownership and with the regulatory and insurance environments of the health care industry. I am a longtime advocate for public schools, having raised my two boys in Phoenix’s Madison School District. I was very involved in their schools and on district-level committees.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

HB 2284 opens the door to harassment of women and their health care providers. This measure is simply another attempt by far-right groups like the Center for Arizona Policy to restrict women’s access to safe, responsible choices and health services. Abortion clinics are already highly regulated. HB 2284 was motivated by political ideology; it is part of a concerted effort to throw more roadblocks in the way of women seeking access to reproductive medical services. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Amy Schwabenlender for State Representative, LD 20

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.” In order to vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Amy for AZAmy Schwabenlender is running to represent the 20th legislative district in the Arizona House of Representatives. LD 20 encompasses much of Northwest Phoenix, and includes parts of Glendale and Moon Valley. Ms. Schwabenlender stands strong for reproductive health, justice, and, as a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood, the work we do to stand up for women’s rights.

LD 20 is currently represented in the state House by Paul Boyer, who identifies as “strongly pro-life.” Paul Boyer recently voted for SB 1062, the infamous discrimination bill that received national attention last spring. Anthony Kern, a Republican, is vying for the second seat. Kern has indicated on his Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire that he is opposed to comprehensive sex education and in favor of retaining Arizona’s constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Because so much is at stake for this House seat, and because Amy Schwabenlender is such a passionate advocate for reproductive rights, we are proud to endorse her campaign. Ms. Schwabenlender was kind enough to talk to Morganne Rosenhaus on September 14, 2014.


“Government and legislators should not be involved in personal health care decisions.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, went to college in San Antonio, and have lived in Arizona for 19 years. I worked in sales and marketing for 10 years, and then transitioned to the nonprofit sector, which is where I have been for the past nine years. I currently work at United Way as vice president of community impact, where my job is to end homelessness and hunger in Maricopa County.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law? In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?

These kinds of bills are insulting to women and their families. It feels like women are being picked on just for being women. The rights that women have when they receive their health care shouldn’t be different from men. No one should have their privacy threatened. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Patty Kennedy for State Senator, LD 20

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.” In order to vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Patty Kennedy bricksPatty Kennedy is running to represent the 20th legislative district in the state Senate. LD 20 encompasses Northwest Phoenix, including parts of Glendale and Moon Valley. Ms. Kennedy stands strong for reproductive health and justice, opposing legislation like HB 2284 and recognizing the fundamental right of an individual to choose what is best for herself or himself when it comes to health care.

LD 20 is currently represented in the state Senate by Kimberly Yee, whose record on reproductive health and rights is abysmal. She has consistently voted against Planned Parenthood’s mission, supporting bills that attempted to reduce access to birth control and preventive services at Planned Parenthood Arizona. In 2012, she sponsored HB 2036, which not only threatens doctors with criminal penalties for performing abortions after 20 weeks, but also goes so far as to define pregnancy as beginning two weeks before conception. Kimberly Yee has signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s statement denouncing Roe v. Wade and was rated by Salon as one of the Top 5 most extreme anti-abortion lawmakers in the United States.

Because so much is at stake in this senate seat, and because Patty Kennedy is such a passionate advocate for reproductive rights, we are proud to endorse her campaign. Ms. Kennedy was kind enough to talk to Morganne Rosenhaus on September 12, 2014.


“The right to make health care decisions in one’s best interest is vitally important and fundamental to our society.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up and have lived in the area that is currently LD 20 most of my life. I have raised my family in this district and own a small business that is located in the district. I have served on the Governing Board of the Glendale Union High School District for the past four years and have served as the board president for the past two years. I will be serving on the Board again for the next four years, as only two candidates turned in valid signatures and there are only two seats up for election.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law? In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?

HB 2284 is not a good piece of legislation. It is both unnecessary and possibly illegal on the grounds of being a possible invasion of privacy for those patients who are at the facility at the time of an unannounced inspection. This bill should be repealed and I would work toward that end. Continue reading

Freedom of Access Under Attack

Clinic escorts in Minnesota. Image: Brianne

Clinic escorts in Minnesota. Image: Brianne

One of the saddest — and most infuriating — things I witnessed during my time as a Planned Parenthood clinic escort was the relentless, unyielding harassment that women were forced to withstand at the hands of anti-abortion protesters, simply for seeking reproductive health care.

Now that we are in the midst of another annual “40 Days For Life” campaign, which always causes a dramatic increase in protester presence, my memories of escorting are even more vivid.


Buffer zones prevent raging extremists from occupying clinic property and blocking patients’ movement.


Before our clinic on 7th Avenue in Phoenix was relocated, I stood outside every Sunday morning for more than a year serving as an access advocate for women. Not only were our patients subjected to extreme haranguing by Planned Parenthood protesters, I was as well. Not one Sunday would pass where I wouldn’t be (loudly) accused of being some kind of an accomplice to murder — or a “murderer” myself.

I constantly questioned not only their tactics, but also their motivation. What kind of people spend their mornings and afternoons preying on women who are going to get health care? Debasing and denigrating unsuspecting women they don’t know at all. Taking mental snapshots of them. Capturing their identities. Glaring directly into their eyes. And voraciously leering at them as they go in and out of a clinic.

It’s a feral, savage practice if you think about it. Incredibly voyeuristic and wildly invasive. Continue reading

Book Club: Woman Rebel – The Margaret Sanger Story

Now that comic books have become the source material for blockbuster movies, the oft-told story of the maligned and misunderstood superhero should be a familiar one, even to many who have never read a comic. Think Professor Xavier’s cohort in the X-Men movies or Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman. They’re extraordinary. They’re also flawed, often unable to shake the ghosts of an uneasy past. But their powers, not their shortcomings, are the reason they’re so maligned. No matter their good intentions, they challenge what is known and established, earning them fear and distrust.


Bagge’s graphic novel is a refreshing contribution to a medium that is often a guilty pleasure at best.


Given that trope, maybe it wasn’t such an odd idea to give the comic book treatment to the life of Margaret Sanger, the reproductive rights pioneer and founder of Planned Parenthood. Writer and illustrator Peter Bagge, a veteran of alternative comics, does just that in Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story (Drawn & Quarterly, 2013). The outcome is a graphic novel that doesn’t let exaggerated expressions, vivid colors, and terse speech bubbles derail an intelligent and sensitive retelling of Sanger’s life.

Comparing Sanger to a superhero might be hyperbole, but Sanger’s trailblazing work not only created the movement to advocate for birth control but also spurred the development of the oral contraceptive, or “the Pill.” She had the drive and the know-how to contribute to the movement as an author, editor, lecturer, and founder of a reproductive health clinic. Along the way, Sanger helped change the laws that stood in the way of reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy, while rubbing shoulders (and sometimes developing romances) with many luminaries of her time, from novelists to political agitators to wealthy industrialists. March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme is Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment — a theme perfect for someone of Sanger’s stature. Sanger’s visionary efforts earned her many accolades — as well as a campaign of character assassination that has called her everything from a fascist to a proponent of genocide. Continue reading

Book Club: Generation Roe

Like many in her generation, Sarah Erdreich thought the freedoms that Roe v. Wade guaranteed were secure. A child of the post-Roe era, she learned that the landmark decision had legalized abortion, striking down many of the state and federal restrictions that had previously forced countless women to risk their lives and health in the hands of underground abortion providers — providers whose work was not accountable to any professional medical standards.

What Erdreich learned was true, but it wasn’t the entire truth. Legalizing abortion was one thing. Guaranteeing access to it was another. After college, graduate school, and a series of abandoned career starts, Erdreich ended up in Washington, D.C., working for the hotline for the National Abortion Federation. Her job changed her perspective, opening her eyes to the extent that restrictions and barriers still diverted many people from the legal procedure of abortion. It was that experience that inspired her to write Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement (Seven Stories Press, 2013).


Generation Roe is worthwhile reading for those who want to build on the legacy of Roe v. Wade.


Generation Roe assesses where we are today, 40 years after Roe, with a sobering look at the continuing threats to reproductive freedom. In the decade that Roe was decided, 77 percent of all U.S. counties lacked an abortion provider. Today, that figure has jumped to 87 percent, while the number of women of childbearing age in those counties has increased from 27 to 35 percent. That’s one of many indicators Erdreich uses to capture the contradictions of the post-Roe era. Those like her who grew up after 1973 have never known what it’s like to live without the availability of legal abortion. But that availability has been curtailed by everything short of overturning Roe, from legal means, such as statutes mandating medically inaccurate pre-abortion counseling — plus waiting periods of 24 hours or more — to illegal means, such as threatening abortion providers and their patients.

Unfortunately, while so much significance can be pegged on Roe v. Wade, and while those few syllables can serve as a sort of shorthand for reproductive freedom, there isn’t a counterpart that succinctly captures its myriad curtailments. As a result, many of those curtailments are left out of the conversation. It takes a news hound to follow what’s happening in the 50 states on the abortion front and to have a thorough sense of where that leaves people who seek abortion services. “I absolutely think most people are not aware of what the realities are in terms of barriers to access,” says law student Kyle Marie Stock, one of the many people Erdreich interviewed for her book. Continue reading

When Metaphor Becomes Reality: The Abortion Battle and the Necessity of the FACE Act

PP entrance

Clinic escorts at a Washington, D.C. Planned Parenthood. Photo: Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuño via Flickr

Serving as the medical director of a reproductive health clinic made Dr. George Tiller a lightning rod for constant vitriol — and more than once a target of violence. Picketers routinely gathered outside his clinic in Wichita, Kansas, a site of their protests because it provided abortions, including late-term abortions. In 1986, Tiller saw the clinic firebombed. Seven years later, in 1993, he suffered bullet wounds to his arms when an anti-abortion extremist fired on him outside the property. Finally, in 2009, he was fatally shot while attending worship services at a Wichita church.


Anti-abortion extremists can create life-threatening scenarios for those who seek reproductive health care.


In the wake of Dr. Tiller’s death, many reproductive rights advocates argued that his assassination could have been avoided. The shooting was not the first time his murderer, 51-year-old Scott Roeder, broke the law.

Roeder could have been stopped prior to the shooting under a federal law, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which was enacted in 1994 — 19 years ago this Sunday — to protect the exercise of reproductive health choices. The FACE Act makes it a federal crime to intimidate or injure a person who is trying to access a reproductive health clinic. It also makes it unlawful to vandalize or otherwise intentionally damage a facility that provides reproductive health care.

Roeder’s ideology was the root of his criminality. Roeder subscribed to a magazine, Prayer and Action News, that posited that killing abortion providers was “justifiable homicide.” Roeder also had ties to a right-wing extremist movement that claimed exemption from U.S. laws and the legal system. Continue reading