Six Things Arizona Is Doing Right

pillflagThe Arizona legislature has been an eager participant in the War on Women, rolling back women’s health and reproductive rights with a number of measures we’ve covered on this blog. Then there was Senate Bill 1062, the bill that would have given a green light to discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and many others had it not been for Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto in February. It’s easy to feel embattled in times like these, which is why a look at what Arizona is doing right might be in order.

Here’s a look at six recent news items from around the state to remind us that we have some victories to count — not just losses.

1. Moving Forward with Medicaid Expansion

Last year, against opposition from other Republicans, Gov. Brewer signed into law a Medicaid expansion that was expected to make 300,000 additional Arizonans eligible for coverage. Brewer stated that the expansion would also protect hospitals from the costs associated with uninsured patients and bring additional jobs and revenue to the economy.

That expansion took effect on the first of the year, and by early February the Associated Press was reporting that already close to 100,000 Arizonans had obtained coverage. At Tucson’s El Rio Community Health Center, the change has made them “very, very busy,” according to Chief Financial Officer Celia Hightower. El Rio used a recent grant to hire six application counselors — in addition to five who were already on staff — who could help patients understand their eligibility and guide them through the process of obtaining coverage. Pharmacist Sandra Leal reports that they’re now seeing patients receive diabetes care they previously couldn’t afford — and no longer having to choose “between paying for the doctor and paying for their grocery bill.” Continue reading

Take Action: Extremists Won’t Stop at SB 1062. Everyone Is a Target.

Your action is urgent. Here is what you can do now to stop the Legislature’s war on Arizonans.

Once again, extremists controlling the Arizona legislature have made our state a national laughingstock. Their “religious freedom” bill, SB 1062, pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, essentially legalizes discrimination against LGBT citizens and other Arizonans.

This hateful and divisive legislation never should have seen the light of day; it is unbelievable that it has made it to the Governor’s desk.

Unfortunately, it is part of a larger pattern in which well-funded interest groups with narrow social agendas, aided and abetted by extremist legislators, pass unconstitutional laws that damage our state’s reputation and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

This destructive cycle didn’t begin with SB 1062. The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) and their legislative allies have long had Planned Parenthood and the women we serve as their targets. Just this session they are pushing clinic inspection legislation, HB 2284, which would open the door to government harassment of women seeking health services and those providers who serve them. The barrage of bills that attack women and reproductive health care has been seemingly endless over the last three years — and, to what end?

Just in the last two months, Arizona has taken two CAP bills all the way to the Supreme Court, where they were refused review: HB 2036, the 20-week abortion ban, and HB 2800, which attempted to deny women with Medicaid coverage the right to access health care services at a provider of their choosing. Indeed, three times in the last three years CAP and their allies have been thwarted in court with their costly litigation. Who pays the bill? Arizona taxpayers. We all pay, once for the Attorney General who defends these unconstitutional laws, and again, when Planned Parenthood and others are awarded attorney’s fees. Over time, CAP and their lackeys in our legislative and executive branch are costing Arizona millions of dollars.

Worse, anyone or any group can be the target of such extreme ideology — not just Planned Parenthood and not just our LGBT friends.  Make no mistake — CAP’s target is you or someone you love. Today, they prey on LGBT individuals and women; tomorrow it will be someone else. SB 1062 is a clear sign of what is to come with its sweeping allowance for discrimination.

Just when we were finally recovering from the damage inflicted by SB 1070, our state again is in the headlines. This is not the state Arizonans want. It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are three things you can do right now to stop this madness:

1) RIGHT NOW — Tell Governor Brewer to VETO SB 1062. Email the Governor, and copy her staff as listed below:

Governor Janice K. Brewer — or

Chief of Staff Scott Smith —

Director of Policy Michael Hunter —

2) NEXT MONTH — Plan to attend the Planned Parenthood I Stand events occurring around the state. The funds raised at these events go directly to our efforts to educate voters and elect moderate, common-sense public servants who focus on priorities supported by most Arizona voters — not the agenda of conservative extremists.

See details at

3) NOVEMBER — Remember, things won’t change until we change who’s in office.  Register to vote and exercise your right this November 4!

Q&A With Our New Director of Public Policy, Jodi Liggett

jodiOn January 6, Jodi Liggett joined Planned Parenthood Arizona’s team as the director of public policy. She will work with communities to advocate for reproductive health and rights, and will collaborate with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona to reach out to voters and legislators to advance a vision of greater access to comprehensive sexuality education, family-planning services, and abortion care. In a state where lawmakers are so hostile to these objectives, Jodi has a lot on her plate!

“The most effective thing we can do is advocate for comprehensive and accurate sexuality education.”

In the following Q&A, Jodi addresses the recent controversy regarding comprehensive sex education in Tempe high schools, and names some of the bad bills that have already been proposed so far in the 2014 legislative session. And, with the gubernatorial elections slated for later in the year, she talks about her hopes for the future — an Arizona government that actually reflects the will of Arizonans, the majority of whom support Planned Parenthood’s mission.

Welcome aboard, and I hope your first month with us has been a positive experience! Please tell us a little about your background and what makes you so passionate about protecting everyone’s access to sexual and reproductive health care.

I am thrilled to join the Planned Parenthood family, and feel like this role is the culmination of many years working on behalf of Arizona’s women and vulnerable populations. When I graduated from law school in the late ’90s, I worked as legislative staff on welfare reform — a huge policy change that affected tens of thousands of poor single mothers struggling to raise their children. Later, I worked in Gov. Jane Hull’s administration as her policy adviser for human services. In both roles, my biggest successes came from finding common ground, avoiding partisan posturing, and working from the middle. Continue reading