Death of a Bill, Birth of an Activist

Editor’s Note: Liza Love, an Arizona pro-choice activist, testified against House Bill 2838 at the Arizona House of Representatives on February 15, 2012. She shares her experience speaking out for reproductive rights.

I am one of millions. We all have some sort of story that reflects the positive impact of Planned Parenthood in our world. There are some of us who honor that role loudly, there are those who allow it to have a quiet sort of resonance, and there are even some who refuse to acknowledge it at all, but that makes it no less true.


We must get to a place where ridiculous ideology is unacceptable from our leaders, where science and facts are not vilified. That will happen when our voices are louder and more coherent.


I have wanted to give back to Planned Parenthood for a long time. Not having much monetarily to share, I have given what I could over the years, yet still felt a need to do more. When I read about HB2838, which would ban abortions at 20 weeks, even in the case of fetal anomalies, I was astonished! I had just moved and had a ton of unpacking to do, but I knew I would be at the hearing for HB2838 to make my voice heard. The plan was that I was going to show up at the Arizona House of Representatives early, meet with my fellow pro-choice activists outside, and get the story of someone who couldn’t be present so that I could share it on his or her behalf. It would allow me to support women and health and see the process of lawmaking all at the same time.

When I arrived at the Capitol, I ended up in this tiny room that was so full it would be an understatement to compare it to being packed like sardines! There were people everywhere!  Rep. Cecil P. Ash, the chairman, was reading some guidelines for the hearing, and then some proposed amendments from Rep. Matt Heinz were being explained to the panel, and ultimately, all but one was voted down. That alone was eye-opening. First of all, Dr. Heinz is a friend to women’s reproductive health and overall well-being, and his efforts to make sure his peers are informed with facts and details was refreshing. Continue reading

The Short History of Our Right to Contraceptives: Eisenstadt v. Baird 40 Years Later

Bill Baird

Recent controversy over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate has served as a reminder of how shaky our rights to contraception can be. Although 99 percent of women have used contraception at some point in their lives, access to contraception is still subject to challenges. Section 2713 of the Affordable Care Act mandated that employers’ health plans include coverage for contraceptives without co-pays or deductibles. Critics attacked the law as unfair to religious institutions that oppose the use of contraceptives. Responding to pressure, the Obama White House offered a compromise that shifted the responsibility for coverage from any religious institution opposed to the mandate to the employees’ health insurance.


The right of unmarried Americans to obtain contraceptives was only established 40 years ago.


Our rights to contraception are not only shaky at times, but also not long established. When people think of celebrities like Marlon Wayans, Cameron Diaz, or Maya Rudolph, old age is probably not what comes to mind. However, what they have in common is that they were each born in 1972, the year the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case Eisenstadt v. Baird (405 U.S. 438), a landmark decision that guaranteed unmarried couples the same access to birth control as married couples. March 22 of this year marks the 40th anniversary of this court victory for reproductive rights activist Bill Baird, and for the reproductive freedoms he defended in the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading

HB 2036 Hurts Women and Promotes Bad Medicine

Call Senate President Steve Pierce immediately!

Call Senate President Steve Pierce

The fight against women’s health continues and we need to put the pressure on! You still have the power to help stop these dangerous, anti-woman bills, some of the worst this legislature has ever proposed.

The Arizona Senate will be hearing HB 2036 tomorrow, March 22, and we need you to send a strong message
as soon as possible
.

Call Senate President Steve Pierce immediately,
and click here to send YOUR senator a strong message!

Senator Steve Pierce, Senate President: 602-926-5584 Continue reading

Dr. Taylor Explains Why She Stands With Planned Parenthood

Dr. DeShawn Taylor is the medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona. Dr. Taylor has been part of the Planned Parenthood family for seven years. I caught up with Dr. Taylor to ask her about her role at Planned Parenthood Arizona and her inspiration for becoming a reproductive-health provider.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

In elementary school I knew I wanted to be a doctor or a teacher. By the time I got to junior high, I decided to go into medicine.


The first generation of post-Roe abortion providers “had a sense of urgency, because they knew that women needed safe abortions. They have seen women die as a result of botched abortions.”


What was your motivation for going into reproductive health?

Actually, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon for the longest time. During my sophomore year of college I read a book called “Gifted Hands” that was about an inspiring neurosurgeon. But my character doesn’t fit the role of a neurosurgeon. I don’t have a God complex, and neurosurgeons thrive on saving lives.

When I started to think about what else I would like to do, I knew I wanted to take care of women. I thought about practicing family medicine or becoming an ob/gyn. I decided that I had the ability to be a surgeon, so becoming an ob/gyn was a good fit for me. I also have a strong commitment to social justice, and I feel like it’s my duty to serve women. If a woman is pregnant and wants to keep the pregnancy, I will provide prenatal care and help her with her delivery. If a woman is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, I will give her an abortion. The woman is my patient, and that’s who I am here to serve. Continue reading

Life-Saving Cancer Screenings for Many Arizonans May Be Eliminated Soon

HB 2800 is being heard tomorrow, March 14, in the House Healthcare Committee.

House Bill 2800 will have a devastating effect on women’s health care in Arizona. This bill effectively singles out Planned Parenthood Arizona by attempting to prohibit us from providing family planning services including life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, and basic health care to thousands of Arizonans on AHCCCS and Title X. Continue reading

Honoring Life: Arizonans Observe National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Tuesday, March 20, 2012, is National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). Started in 2007, NNHAAD is focused on promoting HIV education, prevention, and testing among Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, a former professor at the University of Arizona who is now director of Indian Health Service, has called NNHAAD a day to “celebrate our successes and plan how to best continue working in partnership to address HIV and AIDS among Native people.”


On March 16, Arizona State University will observe Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with speakers, information, and free HIV testing.


Although HIV affects every segment of society in the United States, Native Americans and Alaska Natives are disproportionately affected, ranking third, after black and Latina/Latino Americans, in the rate of HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Even as high as it is, the documented rate of diagnosis most likely understates the actual rate of HIV among Native Americans and Alaska Natives. This is due to racial misidentification in collected data and poor data reporting between state and federal agencies and the Indian Health Service (IHS). Further deflating the rate of diagnosis is the concern among people from smaller Native communities about anonymity during testing and confidentiality after diagnosis. Those concerns and the stigma associated with HIV lead to a reluctance to get tested, which delays or precludes diagnosis.

To understand the high rate of HIV, it helps to look at risk factors that uniquely affect Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Dr. Anthony Dekker of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, interviewed for the newspaper Indian Life, commented that Native American patients “have very high rates of … sexually transmitted diseases … We also know that there is a very high rate of alcohol and [substance abuse] in the American Indian/Alaska Native population. There are many reasons for that, but what happens is that when you take a population that has had high rates of substance abuse and high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, [that population] also has high rates of HIV.” A high rate of substance abuse is associated with a high rate of HIV and other STIs, since impairment can lead to risky sexual behavior, such as poorer negotiation of condom use. Continue reading

This Week, Say Goodbye to Birth Control and Religious Freedom

The political assault on women’s health care that has overwhelmed America in recent weeks is reaching a climax in Arizona THIS week.

No less than six bills that will make it harder or even impossible to get various women’s health care services are being voted on in committee hearings in these five days.

Every one of these bills is poised to become law if we don’t fight back NOW and LOUDLY. Continue reading