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

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Planned Parenthood’s fearless leader, Cecile Richards, put the verbal smackdown on Todd Akin and the rest of the anti-choice clowns of the GOP at the Democratic National Convention last night. (HuffPo)
  • And then Sandra Fluke chimed in with her own takedown of Mitt Romney! (ABC News)
  • Remember how Arizona (specifically Jan Brewer) passed legislation stipulating that only licensed physicians can provide abortion care? Well, new research concludes nurses and midwives can perform abortions just as safely as doctors. The study echoes research last year that found care delivered by advanced practice nurses is just as safe and effective, if not more so, than care provided by physicians. (Fierce Healthcare)
  • Karen Handel, former exec at the Susan G. Komen foundation, has written a book called “Planned Bullyhood” (haha @ that asinine title) in which she whines incessantly about the fallout from Komen’s ill-fated decision to pull its annual grant for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood. Handel has the nerve to compare us to a “schoolyard thug.” Is that LOL-worthy or what?! She blatantly disregards the fact that it was Komen who decided to prioritize politics over women’s health. She fails to acknowledge it was Komen who was soooo eager to jump on the “Attack Planned Parenthood” bandwagon that they were just fine with ceasing funding for potentially life-saving breast exams to women simply for being patients at Planned Parenthood. Oh, and it was Komen who’d known for-freaking-ever that 3 percent of our services go toward abortion care, but only decided to pull the grant because of a highly charged political climate — without regard for the health of the women we both have a responsibility to serve. But we’re the bullies for fighting on behalf of the women who depend on us for their preventive care??? #YeahRight #NotGonnaFlyLady #TryAgain (The Daily Beast)
  • Fox News is making stuff up (shocking, I know) about the Affordable Care Act and pretending like there isn’t a GOP war on women. In other words, it’s business as usual at Fox News. (Newshound)
  • The prognosis for women in four southern states with high rates of maternal mortality — Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — could be getting even worse thanks to their Republican-led governments trying to decline federal aid to expand Medicaid. (Forbes)
  • The male birth control pill we’ve been waiting 50 years for might finally be on the horizon in the not-so-distant future. (Science 2.0)
  • A new animal study has found that an anti-HIV vaginal ring can prevent virus transmission. Yay science! (Science Daily)
  • Texas continues its fight against Planned Parenthood, and as per usual, it’s women who’ll have to deal with the negative consequences. (CBS News)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Because Planned Parenthood is so committed to women’s health and providing the best preventive care possible, we’ve just pledged to dedicate $3 million to launch an initiative to fight breast cancer with expanded screenings and education! Woo hoo! (MSNBC)
  • Dear Todd Akin, Your assertion that a woman’s body can “shut the whole thing down” to prevent herself from being impregnated by her rapist is the biggest crock of $&*% we’ve ever heard. Sincerely, Legitimate Ob/gyn Professionals (NYT)
  • You know who’s more extreme on abortion than Todd Akin? Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan! Boom. (The Daily Beast)
  • Please take a look at this fantabulous video extolling a myriad of benefits of contraception. It is so worth your time. (Guttmacher)
  • The tone deaf GOP is going all in on a plan to abolish abortion, and they could give a friggin’ crap if you were “legitimately raped” or molested. (Jezebel)
  • Remember that one time when Paul Ryan co-sponsored legislation with Todd Akin using the language “forcible rape” instead of just plain “rape” — as if there were different categories and classifications of rape? Well, he now insists “rape is rape” and pretends like this is just basic common sense that he’s always embraced! HA! It’s unfortunate that rape wasn’t “rape” when he insisted upon using the “forcible rape” phrase in the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. (RH Reality Check)
  • The Daily Beast has an epic slideshow detailing the history of abortion rights in America. (Daily Beast)
  • It’s time to panic: Gonorrhea is becoming resistant to the only medical treatment left. (The Grio)
  • Isn’t it interesting that anti-choicers have taken extreme interest in a black woman’s death following an abortion (which is extremely rare), rather than the much higher rate of mortality among black women after childbirth? (Double X)
  • The Catholic Church: a long legacy of protecting the pre-born from not being born, but not protecting post-born children — from rape. (Gawker)
  • In related religious news, the Christian right’s affinity for the notion of fetal personhood has absolutely no scriptural basis. Whatsoever. (Role Reboot)
  • The scary world that awaits us if the GOP wins their war on a woman’s right to choose. (Mother Jones)
  • Medical science has proved that circumcision has significant health benefits, including decreasing the risk of cancer and lowering HIV transmission rates. However, circumcision rates are plummeting, which is probably going to cost the United States billions in health care costs. (USA Today)
  • Sadly, a young pregnant leukemia patient has died due to the failure of the Dominican Republic to allow her timely access to chemotherapy — all because because abortion is illegal in the DR and life-saving chemotherapy treatments are likely to terminate a pregnancy. (CNN)