An Inhuman Industry: Responding to Sex Trafficking in Arizona

Every year, from late January to mid-February, the city of Tucson hosts upward of 50,000 visitors, as the annual Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase — more commonly known as the Tucson Gem Show — draws exhibitors, traders, and tourists from around the globe. It is the biggest show of its kind, and the economic impact is considerable. This year’s show, which officially wrapped last week, was projected to bring $120 million in spending to local businesses.


Effective sex education arms young people with information about consent, negotiating proper boundaries, and forming healthy relationships.


In recent years, media coverage has also put the Gem Show in the spotlight for its alleged impact on an underground economy. The annual event has become a news hook for activists, victim advocates, and social workers who believe it serves as a boon to the nation’s $3 billion sex-trafficking industry.

Although the Arizona Republic rated the claim as “mostly false” when Martha McSally made it in 2015 — noting that evidence was mostly anecdotal — the idea that large events like the Gem Show lead to a spike in sex trafficking has remained a popular talking point. For example, at an awareness event last year, held shortly before the Gem Show’s kick-off, Tucson city council member Steve Kozachik commented, “Every time you have an outside event coming to any community, whether it be a sporting event or the gem show, the numbers of trafficking incidents spike.” He added, “That means the young in this community are vulnerable.”

Federal law defines sex trafficking as recruiting, harboring, transporting, or otherwise inducing a person to perform a commercial sex act against their will — or before they are legally old enough to consent. Last year, KGUN9 suggested that, during the show, as many as 100 women are “sold for sex” every night. The report, however, did not specify if it was referring to commercial sex as a whole or to trafficked sex exclusively — and whatever role the Gem Show plays in the trade is also a murky subject. Continue reading

101 Years Ago Today: Sanger’s First Clinic Opens its Doors

Clinic at 46 Amboy Street

“The poor, century-behind-the-times public officials of this country might as well forget their moss-grown statutes and accept birth control as an established fact. My new national plan makes it as inevitable as night and day.” – Margaret Sanger, October 22, 1916

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, said these words a full century ago, denouncing lawmakers who wished to throw obstacles between women and access to contraception. Her vision for the future was one in which reliable birth control was widely available without controversy. It is frustrating and outright embarrassing that we are still fighting for the right of women to control their own bodies, especially when it comes to reproductive health care.

Different methods of birth control have been used since the ninth century. However, birth control as we know it today was not easily accessible in the United States until the early 1900s.

Sanger helped popularize the term “birth control” because she felt that women had the right to control their own bodies and determine when, and if, they would have children. Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on October 16, 1916 — 101 years ago today. She and her sister, Ethel Byrne, had spent time researching reproductive health care access in the Netherlands, which inspired them to start their own clinic in the United States. They spent time talking to residents in Brooklyn to ensure that the community would be comfortable having a birth control clinic in their neighborhood. Continue reading

All Politics Is Local

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Voting is about civic engagement and civic responsibility, an ideal showcased in city elections happening now across the state. Specifically, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA) have been working on the city council races in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, educating our supporters in those cities about their candidates and how they stand on the issues central to PPAA’s mission.

State legislators, school board members, and county governments are vital to our local communities’ thriving. Local ordinances are the front lines of how laws are administered and enforced, along with providing constituents access to community resources. Currently, city elections are happening and it’s important to get folks out to vote. Here’s an overview of our August primary races.

In Phoenix, four city council members are up for reelection, with three out of four of these seats being uncontested (which means the incumbent automatically wins). So Jim Waring (District 2), Laura Pastor (District 4), and Kate Gallego (District 8) have a clear path to certain victory on August 29 – Election Day! Although in uncontested races, incumbents Laura Pastor and Kate Gallego are endorsed by PPAA. Laura and Kate have long been supporters of Planned Parenthood and have served with integrity and grace on the Phoenix City Council.

In District 6, the incumbent, Sal DiCiccio, is facing a challenger. Early voting started on August 2 and Kevin Patterson is working hard to get every vote he can. As the only contested seat this cycle, the focus of August has been on this race. Kevin is a PPAA-endorsed candidate and has had volunteer support from a great group of PPAA supporters! The dedication of Planned Parenthood volunteers to go door to door for a city council race in 110 degree heat is INSPIRING! Led by PPAA volunteer Kate Fischer, a team of dedicated volunteers has talked with hundreds of voters about Election Day. When phone calls weren’t working, Kate knew she had to take it to the streets. It’s been shown that face-to-face conversations with voters leave a lasting impression and are key to getting that vote. We’re looking forward to celebrating with Team Patterson!

In Tucson, there’s a gluttony of riches in Ward 3, where PPAA endorsed each of these candidates: Paul Durham, Felicia Chew, and Tom Tronsdal. All three progressive candidates have an array of issues they’re passionate about; trusting women to make their own decisions and not taking away health care for millions of people are two of those issues. Having elected officials who understand the role Planned Parenthood plays in keeping communities healthy is vital to Planned Parenthood’s survival. (Candidates in Ward 5 and Ward 6 did not initiate any interest in PPAA’s support.)

In Yuma, PPAA has endorsed Karen Watts in the race for six at-large seats on the Yuma City Council. As a nurse practitioner, Karen understands the needs in the community and can bring resources to under-served communities. In addition, there are currently zero women serving on the Yuma City Council. Zero out of six. It’s time for Yuma to reflect their constituents by electing a more representative council.


Make sure to vote by Election Day: August 29! Click on the cities above for city-specific election information!

Meet Our Candidates: Paul Durham for Tucson City Council Ward 3

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 29, 2017. 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. In order to vote in the primary election, you must have been registered to vote by July 31. Early voting began on August 2. Make your voice heard in 2017!

Paul Durham has been involved in the Tucson community since 2004, when he worked on political campaigns and became involved in the Democratic Party and Stonewall Democrats. After years behind the political scenes, Mr. Durham has decided to take his passion for his community to the voters of Ward 3, which covers the northwest portion of the city. He cites education as a key issue in his campaign, along with sustainable energy and better public transportation. Of his endorsement from PPAA, he said, “I will do all in my power … to support Planned Parenthood and its mission and stand up for it when Donald Trump attacks.”


“Truly comprehensive sex education that includes LGBTQ youth is very important.”


Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona announced its endorsement of Paul Durham early last month, and he generously took time for an interview with us on August 1, 2017, to tell us more about his background and his campaign.

Tell me a little about your background.

I was born in Spokane, Washington, where my dad was an elementary school principal. He taught me the value of education, which is probably why I went out and got a bunch of degrees. I did my undergrad in Washington, law school at Stanford, and later got an MBA at the University of Colorado. I practiced law for over two decades, advising businesses and helping them grow. I moved to Tucson in 2004 and worked full time on the John Kerry [presidential] campaign. I was the campaign manager for Tucson City Council Member Nina Trasoff’s 2005 campaign and served as her chief of staff after she was elected. I also served as treasurer of the Pima County Democratic Party. In my free time, I enjoy cycling and serve on the board of El Grupo Youth Cycling, a local nonprofit working to empower youth through bicycles. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Tom Tronsdal for Tucson City Council Ward 3

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 29, 2017. 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. In order to vote in the primary election, you must have been registered to vote by July 31. Early voting begins on August 2. Make your voice heard in 2017!

Tom Tronsdal, in his first run for office, threw his hat in the ring for the race for Tucson’s Ward 3 shortly after the New Year. He is a longtime resident of Ward 3, which covers northwest Tucson. Mr. Tronsdal is also an impassioned advocate for people affected by neurological disabilities, and, inspired by his son, has raised thousands of dollars for brain research. Mr. Tronsdal hopes to build on the accomplishments of Ward 3’s departing representative, Karin Uhlich, by focusing on economic growth, including investments in a local employment-ready workforce; public safety, including resources for domestic violence victims, immigrants, and refugees; and support for children and education.


“Deciding whether, when, and under what circumstances you choose to become a parent is one of the most important decisions a person can make.”


Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona announced its endorsement of Tom Tronsdal early last month, and he generously took time for an interview with us on July 31, 2017, to tell us more about his background and his campaign.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a proud pro-choice Democrat who has called Tucson home for over three decades. Raised by a single mother in the heart of Ward 3, I went on to earn a degree in disability law and currently own and operate Canyon Fence Company. Obstacles in my early childhood and raising a special-needs son with my wife, Amanda, give me a unique understanding of the importance of accessibility and opportunity for all Ward 3 residents. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Felicia Chew for Tucson City Council Ward 3

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 29, 2017. 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. In order to vote in the primary election, you must be registered to vote by July 31 (today!). Early voting begins on August 2. Make your voice heard in 2017!

Felicia ChewFelicia Chew was the first candidate to enter the race for Tucson’s Ward 3 after its long-serving councilwoman, Karin Uhlich, announced last year that she would not seek reelection. Ms. Chew has served her community as a teacher for more than 20 years, most recently at Mansfeld Middle School, and has also been active in the community as an advocate for mental health, environmental sustainability, and education. Now Chew is seeking to enter politics as a new way to be a voice for her neighbors and community, including those who are too often underrepresented, as the city councilwoman for Ward 3, which covers the city’s northwest area.


“I will never stop fighting for reproductive rights and health care for all Tucsonans.”


Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona announced its endorsement of Felicia Chew earlier this month, and Ms. Chew generously took time for an interview with us on July 25, 2017, to tell us more about her background and her campaign.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a first-generation Chinese-American daughter of immigrant parents. I am a teacher, a single mother, and an advocate. I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years and have always taught my students about how to be responsible citizens, complex thinkers, and effective communicators. As a survivor of domestic violence, I want to ensure survivors in Tucson have all the resources they need. As a single mom, I want to help working families like mine by implementing and expanding programs that make our lives better. I am running for city council to advocate for and amplify the voices of my neighbors and each of us in Tucson. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Deja Foxx

    Let’s kick this thing off with some good news — two states have passed laws making it easier for women to access birth control! Yay! (Elite Daily)

  • If you live in the Phoenix metro area, you may wanna check out this handy map on the prevalence of STDs in your ZIP code! (ABC 15)
  • In other local news, Tucson teen Deja Foxx is a fearless powerhouse. She courageously advocates for others, heroically stood up to Sen. Jeff Flake, and sings the praises of Planned Parenthood every chance she gets. We are SO in awe of her and SO thankful for her advocacy! (WaPo)
  • Extensive research by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows there are broad economic benefits of increased contraception use — not just for women but for society overall. (Salon)
  • Of course sexism played a huge role in Hillary’s 2016 election loss. (XX Factor)
  • Rewire‘s Yamani Hernandez explains why framing abortion as an economic issue that affects our survival may be the only way to make people understand how crucial our right to this choice is. (Rewire)
  • Texas’ maternal mortality rate doubled over a two-year period. Not coincidentally, this was the same two-year period of time in which the state gutted Planned Parenthood and forced most of our health centers in the state to close. Additionally, more than half of all births in Texas are paid for by Medicaid, but coverage for new mothers ends just 60 days after childbirth. The majority of the 189 maternal deaths the task force looked at from 2011 to 2012 occurred after the 60-day mark. (Texas Observer)
  • Texas also has the highest birth rate in the U.S. (more than half paid for through Medicaid), and one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. Medicaid births — most likely unintended pregnancies — rose in areas where access to PP was barred. (Austin Chronicle)
  • And in case you were wondering, Texas is not done clobbering reproductive options and rights. Their governor just signed what is being described as a “sweeping anti-abortion law.” (The Cut)
  • The latest medical science discovery: A vaginal gel containing tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug used to treat HIV infection, was three times as effective at preventing HIV in women who had healthy vaginal bacterial communities as it was in women with a less beneficial mix. (Science News)
  • Gotta love this headline: “President Who Bragged About Extramarital Sex Appoints Top Abstinence Advocate to HHS” (XX Factor)