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

The Arizona general election will be held on November 8, 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 election, you must have been registered to vote by October 10. Make your voice heard in 2016!

The 28th legislative district has, until recently, been represented in the House by Democrat Eric Meyer and Republican Kate Brophy McGee, making it one of the state’s few swing districts. Dr. Eric Meyer, although termed out of the House, was not done fighting for his values and District 28. Evaluating his competition, incumbent Adam Driggs announced that he would not seek reelection. Kate Brophy McGee jumped at the opportunity to get in the Senate race, leaving two seats in the House up for grabs.

Kelli Butler, a Democrat, hopes to occupy one of those seats, keeping LD 28’s House representation split between one Democrat and one Republican.

Ms. Butler will be squaring off against Mary Hamway and Maria Syms, both of whom support heavy restrictions on abortion.  Ms. Syms also opposes including sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in nondiscrimination laws. While all three House candidates have made education a central part of their platforms, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona trusts Ms. Butler to advocate for a very important aspect of children’s schooling: comprehensive sex education. For that reason, and because of her strong support for reproductive rights, we recommend a single-shot vote for Kelli Butler.

Education, the economy, and child safety represent the three pillars of Ms. Butler’s platform, and comprehensive sex education links all three of these issues together. Including comprehensive sex education in schools empowers 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. When teens are able to delay childbearing until after they complete their educations, they are able to obtain better jobs and be less dependent on public assistance, helping to strengthen the economy. Knowledge about preventing pregnancy can help them start their families when they are ready, helping children to be born into more stable homes that are ready to raise them.

We need lawmakers at the Capitol to introduce legislation that improves sex education in all of Arizona, rather than making piecemeal advances one district at a time. Even school districts with relatively progressive sex-ed programs are constrained by state laws that, for example, forbid teachers from presenting LGBTQ folks in a positive light. We need representatives like Ms. Butler to give local school districts better laws to work with.

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 October 12, 2016.


“Medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education is vital to every person’s health and well-being.”


Tell us a little about your background and why it’s important to you to be involved in your community.

I am a native Arizonan and I grew up largely within the boundaries of my district. I attended local public schools at a time when Arizona was near the national average in per-student funding. We had access to quality programs and educational options that are no longer available to our public school students today. When my two boys attended our neighborhood public school, I witnessed the dire results of budget cuts — programs like art, music, and electives were cut, class sizes increased, and teachers began leaving the profession. I got involved in politics because I am a passionate advocate for education and I want to be part of a different vision for our state. Continue reading

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

Abstinence-Only Education Gives Birth to Arizona’s High Teen Pregnancy Rate

Arizona has an especially high teen-pregnancy rate. Arizona also promotes abstinence-only education in its public schools.

Arizona is known for a lot of things. The Grand Canyon, our universities, beautiful sunsets.

And, oh yeah, our truly awful teen pregnancy rate.

Ranked against the other 49 states, Arizona’s teen-pregnancy rate has been in the top 5 for years. And while you probably won’t see that fact emblazoned on a license plate anytime soon, teen pregnancy still has a significant impact on Arizona residents.


Abstinence-only education teaches to prevent pregnancy and STDs by abstaining from sex, which isn’t helpful to the 70 percent of teenagers who have had intercourse by age 19.


As of 2009, Arizona had the fifth highest teen birth rate in the United States. This trend is on the rise — as of 2006 the rate had increased by 6.5 percent. In 2009, 12,537 teenagers became pregnant. Of those pregnancies, 10,952 resulted in live births. While the majority of those women were either 18 or 19, that’s still about 3,500 girls under the age of 17 giving birth, a number that varies every year but generally stays in the 4000s. Continue reading