Tipping the Balance: Why Primary Elections Matter

Arizona state Senate“We will remember in November,” say activists vowing to effect change at the polls. General elections, held in November, are contests between the candidates nominated by their political parties and decided by voters. They are phenomenally important, as their outcomes determine who our presidents, senators, representatives, and other legislators will be.


Not all Democratic candidates support reproductive rights, so check our list of endorsed candidates before voting a Democratic ballot!


What rhymes with August? “You’ll eat sawdust in August”? “We want laws just in August”? I’ll work on that, but for now you should know that the primary elections will be held in Arizona on August 26, and many important races will be decided in August rather than November. How is that possible? Sometimes, only one political party has candidates running for an office, meaning that whoever wins their party’s nomination in the primary election won’t face opposition in November.

In three such races, all featuring Democrats running for the state Senate, reproductive rights are at stake. So, in case you were wondering why voting in the primary elections is so important, read on to learn about these crucial races! And tell your friends in these Phoenix-area legislative districts that the decisions they make at the polls have the potential to bring balance to our state legislature in terms of reproductive health care access. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Aaron Marquez for State Senator, LD 27

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began on July 31. 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.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

Aaron Marquez is running for the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District 27, a district that encompasses part of Central Phoenix as well as the communities of Guadalupe, South Mountain, and Laveen. Mr. Marquez has focused his campaign on the idea of building bridges — in the form of strengthening education and the economy — for a stronger Arizona.

Mr. Marquez faces primary opposition from current House Rep. Catherine Miranda, who has a voting record in the legislature that clearly shows she does not support women’s health issues or the ability for Arizonans to make their own health care decisions.

Mr. Marquez was kind enough to take the time for this telephone interview, transcribed below, on July 23, 2014.


“I just want to make sure that the Arizona my daughter grows up in is an Arizona that always respects women.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I was raised in Arizona. I had a single mom and an older sister who were both very influential in raising me. I went through K-12 public schools in Arizona.

I started at the University of Arizona, but something important happened that first semester of college, for me and for the country — 9/11 happened. I realized I wanted to find a way to serve the country. I tried to get into the Army at that point but ended up being medically disqualified due to childhood asthma.

I looked for other options to serve and discovered the AmeriCorps program. I ended up moving to Boston as an AmeriCorps volunteer to work in inner city schools. I did that for two years, running tutoring programs and learning programs for middle and high school students.

Then I took a third year off of school — my folks thought I was never going back to college — to work for the Kerry campaign in 2004. I realized, after two years of giving community service full time, that political service and governance is how you effect the most change for the most amount of people. If good people don’t run for public office, then you have people who poorly represent our country and our state and — in my particular race — in District 27. Continue reading

The Birmingham Clinic Bombing and the Culture of Violence Against Reproductive Freedom

After earning her nursing degree from the University of Alabama in 1977, Emily Lyons developed a suite of skills in a variety of health care settings, from in-home care to emergency services. She passed on much of her knowledge to future nurses when she taught at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and by 1998, she had taken the helm as director of nursing at the New Woman All Women Health Care clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.


The 1990s were a time of numerous murders and attempted murders of reproductive health-care providers.


Lyons remembers little from January 29 of that year, a date 15 years ago today. She woke up earlier than she wanted but pushed herself through her morning routine, knowing she could look forward to a nap after work. She also looked forward to being home again with her husband, who was back from two weeks of business travel. But when she arrived at work, a devastating act of violence would ensure that nothing that ordinary would happen to her that day.

At 7:33 a.m., just as the clinic was opening, a bomb containing dynamite and nails exploded outside, killing security guard Robert Sanderson and critically injuring Emily Lyons. Although it was one of dozens of abortion clinic bombings that had occurred since abortion was legalized in 1973, the bombing of that Birmingham clinic was the first that resulted in a fatality. The five prior murders of reproductive health-care providers had been by gunshot.

Wounded in her face and legs, Lyons’ life was changed forever. After a long recovery, she was unable to resume her nursing career, but she became a spokesperson and activist for reproductive rights, receiving, among other honors, the Margaret Sanger Woman of Valor Award from Planned Parenthood. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Karyn Lathan for State Representative, LD 17

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 Advocates of Arizona 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 midnight tonight (October 9) — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Karyn Lathan, an Arizona native from Chandler, is running in Legislative District 17 for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, an area that includes Chandler, Sun Lakes, and part of Gilbert. She has had a career in law enforcement and corrections, and ended her 25-year career as the restorative justice coordinator for the Arizona Department of Corrections. Lathan is currently finishing her degree in business administration at the University of Phoenix.


“We have rolled women’s rights back to the 1950s.”


Lathan is the sole pro-women’s health candidate running for the House in Legislative District 17, facing off against Republican opponents Tom Forese and J.D. Mesnard. Because of the views of the other candidates in the LD 17 House election, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is recommending a “single-shot vote” for Karyn Lathan. Lathan generously took the time for an interview with us on October 5, 2012.

Tell us about your background and how it will serve your constituents.

I spent my career in law enforcement, first in the U.S. Air Force, then in corrections. I was a correctional officer, correctional programs officer, and probation and parole officer. I ended my career in corrections when I returned to Arizona and started the first restorative justice program for the Arizona Department of Corrections. Currently I am a commissioner with the Chandler Domestic Violence Commission and work with several victim services agencies. I am a consultant for Coalition to End Arizona’s Sexual Exploitation (CEASE). My passion lies with women’s issues and anti-violence issues.

My whole career has been about community and how to have a safe, productive community. I will continue to fight for the quality of life that we all deserve and that emphasizes respect and progress. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link — so is a community. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Bill Gates for State Senator, LD 17

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 Advocates of Arizona 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!

Along with education and foreclosures, the recent legislation aimed at Planned Parenthood is one of the top issues Bill Gates includes on his website. Gates points to HB2800, the bill that defunded Planned Parenthood, as an example of “vindictive” legislation that harms Arizonans rather than helping them. As Gates writes in his scathing criticism, HB2800 was “intended to hurt Planned Parenthood” and punishes the “women, men and children who turn to Planned Parenthood clinics for their health needs.” That Gates takes such a strong stand for the preventive and reproductive health services that are under attack is testament to his commitment to the best interests of the constituents he seeks to serve.


“My wife and I fought these battles 40 years ago and we’re angry that they now have to be fought again in Arizona.”


Gates and his running mate, House candidate Karyn Lathan, are both endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and are running to represent Legislative District 17, which covers eastern Chandler, northwestern Gilbert, and all of Sun Lakes. Gates generously took the time for an interview with us on September 28, 2012.

In the previous legislative session, there were a lot of bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB 2625), funding for family planning (HB 2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools (SB1009) — and your opponent, Steve Yarbrough, voted in favor of all of them.  Do you feel that his views are consistent with the majority of Arizonans?

His views are at odds with the majority of Arizonans but because he keeps a low profile, and because he has never previously faced serious direct opposition, most voters in the district don’t know about his terrible record on reproductive issues. But he is one of the most reliable supporters in the Legislature of the extreme positions advocated by Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy.

During the campaign I have stressed Sen. Yarbrough’s conflict of interest in running a school tuition organization that receives Arizona income tax dollars. He is able to vote on and, indeed, propose legislation directly benefiting STOs. But the next biggest difference between the two of us involves reproductive rights — a point I made September 24 when the two of us appeared jointly before an Arizona Republic East Valley editorial board considering endorsements. Continue reading