STD Awareness: Fighting STDs with Education

Here in Arizona, Tucson Unified School District has been taking steps toward adopting a comprehensive, inclusive, age-appropriate, and medically accurate sex education program, but it’s been repeatedly delayed by a vocal minority. In September, a vote was put on hold after the superintendent recommended changing the proposed curriculum to focus on abstinence as the preferred method for avoiding STDs and unintended pregnancies.


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Additionally, many opponents of TUSD’s proposed curriculum believe its inclusiveness of LGBTQ kids is tantamount to “indoctrination,” that this type of education “sexualizes” children, and that discussions of gender identity will confuse students. LGBTQ kids have traditionally been ignored or demeaned in sex education programs, and their health matters too. Presenting medically accurate and age-appropriate information does not indoctrinate or sexualize children — it simply helps them make healthy decisions, no matter who they are. And these days, students need to be empowered with as much knowledge as possible to make decisions that protect their health.

Confronting the STD Epidemic

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual report on sexually transmitted diseases. It did not contain good news. For the fifth straight year, STD rates are climbing.

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Meet Our Candidates: Hollace Lyon for State Representative, LD 11

The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona general election will be held November 6, 2018, with early voting beginning on October 10. Voters need to be registered by October 9 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Hollace “Holly” Lyon is facing Republican Mark Finchem for a seat in the Arizona House in Legislative District 11, which fans out from the Interstate 10 corridor across northwest Pima County into Pinal County. A Washington state native and resident of SaddleBrooke, she first spoke to us in 2014, when she won our endorsement but not her race. Her position on women’s health — now as then — is that it should be accessible to all, and that no woman should be made to feel guilty or ashamed about seeking whatever care she needs.


“Democracy doesn’t work if people don’t work at it, or are hampered from being involved.”


Before joining the military, Col. Lyon taught middle school for a year, and supports comprehensive sex education for young people as an integral part of health care. She retired from the Air Force after 26 years of service, gaining expertise as an information technology expert. Her last Air Force assignment was as the Pentagon’s director of education and training for 90,000 IT personnel. She then worked in the private sector. Retiring once more in 2008, Holly moved to Arizona with her wife, Linda, to care for her mom.

Col. Lyon took time from her busy campaign in August to answer our questions by email.

Since we last spoke, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown? What has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

Much has happened to give me hope and to strengthen my convictions. Dr. Hiral Tipirneni’s close race [in a special election against former Arizona Sen. Debbie Lesko, a Republican, for an open seat the 8th Congressional District] was not just inspiring because of her great showing, but also because she ran largely on a health-care-for-all platform, and the voters responded to it! That gives me hope that voters are beginning to recognize the role that government plays in their lives, either for better or worse — and it should be, and can be, for better. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ralph Atchue for State Senator, LD 11

The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona primary election will be held August 28, 2018, and voters need to be registered by July 30 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!

Arizona’s Legislative District 11 covers an area from just northwest of Tucson to the southeast end of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It includes Oro Valley, Picture Rocks, Marana, and Catalina, extending through part of Pinal County, including Casa Grande, and as far north as Maricopa City. We have been represented by Democrats in the past, and I’m sure we can be again.


“Every person must be treated equally with protection under the law.”


Ralph Atchue, retired after 33 years working for the U.S. Postal Service, is running for LD 11’s seat in the state Senate against Vince Leach, a tea party Republican currently serving in the state House of Representatives. Atchue has lived in Arizona since 2006, and has been active in Democratic politics here since then. When he ran for the same seat in 2016, I interviewed him for this blog. Afterward, I attended a number of events in the district and got to talk with him several times as well as hear him speak in public forums. I am pleased he is running again this year, and also that I am able to interview him a second time.

He graciously answered our questions on July 23, 2018.

Since we last spoke, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown?

More than ever, I am convinced that Arizona needs a change in direction. I believe voters are ready for a less extreme/ideological government. They’re looking for pragmatic commonsense solutions to everyday problems and issues, and that’s exactly what we’re offering. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Bradley for State Senator, LD 10

The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona primary election will be held August 28, 2018, and voters need to be registered by July 30 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!

David Bradley is a familiar name to many Arizona voters. From 2003 to 2011, he served four terms as a state representative. In 2012, he won his first bid for state senator for Arizona’s Legislative District 10, an area that covers portions of central and eastern Tucson. In that race, as well as his successful reelection bids in 2014, and 2016, he received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA). Sen. Bradley is seeking another term to represent LD 10 and has received PPAA’s endorsement once again.

Bradley spent his early childhood in Phoenix and his high school years in Tucson, after which he spent eight years with the Navy in Spain, Iceland, and other locations. When Bradley returned to Tucson in 1980, he began a career in counseling. For the last 18 years, he has served as chief executive officer of La Paloma Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit child welfare agency. With his experience in administration and behavioral health, combined with his many years in the Arizona Legislature, Bradley brings solid credentials to the task of addressing the many issues facing Arizona. The values and convictions he brings to the table have also helped him earn the endorsements of numerous other organizations, including Las Adelitas Arizona and the Arizona Nurses Association Political Action Committee.

Sen. Bradley kindly took the time to tell us more about his background and his candidacy on July 6, 2018.


“Women have the right to access the full range of reproductive health services without fear and intimidation.”


What have you accomplished in your previous term?

The previous term’s accomplishments center around support for the #RedForEd movement. Being in the minority usually means being on the defensive and working with moderate members of the opposite party to mostly block bad legislation. This year the rallying cry of teachers rolled over the governor and the Legislature. I was proud to stand with them to further their cause. Continue reading

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!