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!
Ed Ableser is running for an Arizona State Senate seat in the new Legislative District 26, which covers Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He has served as a state senator and is the current state representative from Legislative District 17. Ableser received his bachelor’s degree in political science and Chinese, as well as his master’s degree in counseling, from Arizona State University. He is now working to complete his Ph.D. in justice and social inquiry and is a mental-health counselor in the public school system. He also owns a business and works as a counselor for Ableser Family Counseling.
“This election is an important one for women’s access to reproductive health care. The fair and equal treatment of women is at stake.”
Because Ableser has spent his career serving low-income families and helping them deal with the difficult issues they face on a day-to-day basis, he believes his experience has given him “the opportunity to see what their problems are and the insight into how my constituents can be helped at the state capitol.”
In the previous legislative session, there were many bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control, funding for family planning, abortion, and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools. When asked what legislation he would like to see introduced, he said he would like to make sure the Affordable Healthcare Act gets enacted. Ableser noted that “there are hundreds of people waiting to have the basic safety net of insurance. There are too many people on the edge of bankruptcy because of the cost of medical care.”
Next, he would like to continue work on legislation to provide resources for parents who need to come to schools for parent/teacher conferences. “Some employers have fired employees for taking time off to go to their children’s school,” he said, and he would like these employees to have protection.
A third important issue Ableser would like to see addressed by the Arizona legislature is women’s health care in the rural parts of Arizona. “There are limited resources outside of Tucson and Maricopa [County],” he said. “There has been growth in northern Arizona and this area needs attention.”
In his work as a counselor, Ableser has seen first hand that there are not enough resources available to help younger women who become pregnant, and he would like to “give them more assistance after they have made their choice.” This would include assisting them with parenting skills as well as taking care of their own health with information on birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.
Ableser believes that it’s important that people make their own health care choices. “This is central to the issue of liberty,” he tells us. “Individuals’ ability to decide health care issues for themselves is imperative. For the government to restrict options is the definition of tyranny.”
An effective education is also important for people to make informed health-related choices, and comprehensive sex education in particular is an issue that Ableser believes is “highly important!” In his work as a school counselor he has seen young people becoming sexually active and aiming to become pregnant. “We have failed to give them the information they need about what parenting involves, about sexually transmitted diseases and options for preventing pregnancy.” He takes the position that more discussion on sex education needs to take place and the current legislature has “stopped this discussion at every step.”
When asked about his endorsement from PPAA, Ableser answered that he feels “honored and thrilled, because I have seen that Planned Parenthood provides the community with prevention and education services and is a lifesaver to so many families.” He also stated that the abortion services Planned Parenthood provides make up such a small percentage of what they do, which is a testament to their success in prevention.
In November’s election, Ableser will be facing Republican and Libertarian opponents. Republican Jerry Lewis, in a survey he submitted to the Center for Arizona Policy, indicated that he supports conscience clauses. For example, he would be in favor of allowing a pharmacist to refuse dispensing emergency contraception if the medication interfered with the pharmacist’s moral or religious beliefs.
Asked how he responds to this issue, Ableser told us, “I have fought this battle (in the House of Representatives) for the last five years. The conscience clause is a blatant, direct violation of the medical code of ethics.” Ableser believes that health care professionals have been trained, educated, and instructed not to impose their own ideology or philosophy on patients. He noted that the job of pharmacists is to dispense medication and educate patients on their side-effects, and for them to impose their ideology on patients is “counter-intuitive to their Hippocratic oath. ‘First do no harm’ is a large part of the goal of healing that counselors, pharmacists, and doctors adhere to.”
Ableser realizes that “this election is an important one for women’s access to reproductive health care. The fair and equal treatment of women is at stake.” He believes that while the other party seeks to control women, he and his fellow Democrats believe in the liberation of women. He is very passionate in his belief that the restrictive laws in the last legislative session have been passed mostly by older men who have no idea what most women’s lives are actually like. He is running for the Senate because he believes his counseling experience has given him the knowledge needed to advocate for women, and he hopes Arizona voters will send a message that it is time to stop this oppressive legislation.
For more information about Ed Ableser’s campaign — including more detailed positions as well as other individuals and groups who have endorsed him — you can find his website at EdAbleser.com. You can also check out his Facebook page and find him on Twitter @RepAbleser.
With all the redistricting that’s taken place this year, you might not even know what legislative district you’re in — but you can click here to find out! And, regardless of which legislative district in Arizona you live in, you can contact us if you’d like to volunteer for an endorsed candidate in your legislative district.