Special Message from Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Bryan Howard

bryan headshot 600In 2011, Planned Parenthood Arizona was forced to stop providing abortion care at a number of our health centers due to legislation that made the provision of this care nearly impossible. Our health center in Flagstaff was one of them.

For the past two-and-a-half years, women living outside of Pima and Maricopa counties have encountered miles of travel, days of wages lost, and several nights away from loved ones in order to access this safe and legal medical procedure. These barriers, created by politicians who have no business interfering with a woman’s personal medical decisions, were faced and overcome by many women — but not all.

After ending abortion care at our Flagstaff Health Center in 2011, we are grateful to have the opportunity to bring this care back to the community. The Flagstaff Health Center is once again providing medication abortion.

Here is a quote from Beth Otterstein, WHNP, our excellent health care provider at the Flagstaff Health Center who has served the community in her capacity for more than 20 years:

“Northern Arizona women who have come to our health center over the last two years have expressed heartache when they learned that abortion was not available in their community. These are the stories that kept us determined. We are fortunate to be able to once again serve the needs of women in this community.”

While this is good news for the women of Northern Arizona, it is important to remember that so many unnecessary barriers continue to exist for women throughout Arizona.

Policymakers are now targeting Planned Parenthood Arizona and other abortion providers in the state with a bill (HB2284) that would allow unannounced inspections of health centers by the Department of Health Services.

Abortion providers are already subject to a number of laws and regulations, including some that specifically pertain to inspections of health care facilities. This bill only further opens the door to harassment of abortion providers and goes too far, by allowing inspections without the safeguard of a warrant requirement.

For decades, Arizona was a state that protected a woman’s right to make personal decisions about her own health care. But for the last three years, we have been a state where politicians institute laws at the insistence of extreme ideological lobbying groups who do not provide medical services, and the result has been disastrous for women’s health and rights.

They won’t stop and neither will we.

Stand with us as we work tirelessly to ensure that women and their families have access to the tools and resources they need to lead healthy lives.

Q&A With Our New Director of Public Policy, Jodi Liggett

jodiOn January 6, Jodi Liggett joined Planned Parenthood Arizona’s team as the director of public policy. She will work with communities to advocate for reproductive health and rights, and will collaborate with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona to reach out to voters and legislators to advance a vision of greater access to comprehensive sexuality education, family-planning services, and abortion care. In a state where lawmakers are so hostile to these objectives, Jodi has a lot on her plate!


“The most effective thing we can do is advocate for comprehensive and accurate sexuality education.”


In the following Q&A, Jodi addresses the recent controversy regarding comprehensive sex education in Tempe high schools, and names some of the bad bills that have already been proposed so far in the 2014 legislative session. And, with the gubernatorial elections slated for later in the year, she talks about her hopes for the future — an Arizona government that actually reflects the will of Arizonans, the majority of whom support Planned Parenthood’s mission.


Welcome aboard, and I hope your first month with us has been a positive experience! Please tell us a little about your background and what makes you so passionate about protecting everyone’s access to sexual and reproductive health care.

I am thrilled to join the Planned Parenthood family, and feel like this role is the culmination of many years working on behalf of Arizona’s women and vulnerable populations. When I graduated from law school in the late ’90s, I worked as legislative staff on welfare reform — a huge policy change that affected tens of thousands of poor single mothers struggling to raise their children. Later, I worked in Gov. Jane Hull’s administration as her policy adviser for human services. In both roles, my biggest successes came from finding common ground, avoiding partisan posturing, and working from the middle. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • tmp_MikeHuckabee-1529227793Dufus du jour, Mike Huckabee, has publicly aired his belief that women are poor, vulnerable souls who can’t think for themselves and are slaves to their libidos for accessing preventive reproductive health care. (WaPo)
  • He’s also a total hypocrite on the issue of the birth control mandate. (Politics USA)
  • If you thought the state of Arizona could usher in the new year without trying to further hinder the reproductive rights of women — you, my friend, were mistaken. (Tucson Weekly)
  • Oh, and now “conscience clauses” are becoming a thing. You know, having someone use their religious beliefs to trample upon your civil and, at times, human rights. This means that perhaps you’ll walk into a pharmacy one day, only to discover that the person doling out prescriptions doesn’t agree with you taking birth control, and thus can refuse to fulfill your PHYSICIAN-ORDERED PRESCRIPTION. As much as I hate being a pessimist, I could see this going in an even worse direction. How about if one’s life is at stake? Is it not entirely impossible that a gay man, suffering from HIV or AIDS, could attempt to fill a prescription related to his condition and be turned away by a pharmacist whose religious beliefs state that homosexuality is a “sin”? It would be assumed that your illness is related to your engaging in an activity regarded as “sinful” to some pill-dispensing bigot, and he or she could very well turn you away on that basis. What would prevent this from happening if such an asinine law were enacted? This trend of allowing the religious beliefs of a third party to dictate what one can or cannot have in their personal life is one of the most oppressively un-American things we’ve seen in this country during the last 50 years. It’s rich that the perpetrators of such oppression are those who proclaim to care the most about personal freedom and liberties. (Sierra Vista Herald)
  • Are we being fear-mongered over the safety of our birth control? (Slate)
  • Missouri is trying to become the third state to implement a three-day waiting period for women seeking abortion. You see, the female brain is not capable of making sound decisions before approximately 72 hours have passed (and even then, it’s iffy ’cause, ya know, we have vaginas). This is all science, folks. Not medical science. Republican, anti-choice science. (Think Progress)
  • Girl Scout cookies. The choice new dessert of abortion lovers everywhere. Yum. (Mother Jones)
  • “Miscarriage manager” will likely be the new title for more and more doctors seeking to help women terminate unwanted pregnancies. (New Republic)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

Staci Michelle Yandle, the first African-American lesbian federal judge

Staci Michelle Yandle, the first African-American lesbian federal judge

  • Dear Jan Brewer and all the other ridiculous Republicans in this state: Your attempts to thwart the reproductive rights of Arizona women WILL NOT STAND! You have no business trying to dictate when a fetus is viable. None of you are ob/gyns. Just give it up already. You have lost the battle and the war. #Booya (AZ Central)
  • OK, so, remember how the Repubs came up with the astronomically stupid idea to force women to see or have doctors describe the contents of their uterus via ultrasound before they could undergo an abortion? Well, the studies on the impact of this practice are in, and guess what? It turns out women already know what’s in their uteruses! A whopping 98.4 percent of those women went on to undergo their abortions anyway. What they saw wasn’t a shocking revelation! Those who thought women were too stupid to make an informed choice without seeing the embryo or fetus occupying their body were totally wrong. Shocker. (Slate)
  • President Obama is taking an unprecedented step in judicial history by nominating the first black lesbian federal judge, who will preside in the 7th Circuit, covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. (The Root)
  • There’s a pretty active debate on whether or not MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” has had a direct effect on the downturn in teenage pregnancy rates. Speaking from a personal standpoint, it sure helped cement my commitment to staying childfree! (Time)
  • In related news, it ain’t cheap to have a baby. And after that, guess what? You have to spend money on it for at least 19 to 20 years. Minimum! (NBC News)
  • Further evidence that the health and wishes of a pregnant woman are trumped by the “rights” of a fetus: Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old woman in Texas, suffered a tragic fall that resulted in her being on life support and clinically brain dead. Under Texas law, brain dead individuals are considered deceased. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped John Peter Hospital in Fort Worth from refusing to act in accordance with her personal end-of-life directive. Instead, they have forced her to remain on life support. Why? Because of the 19-week-old fetus still occupying her womb. Her family is suffering and understandably distressed. Her husband Erick is determined to fight this out in court. We’ll be watching and hoping. (RH Reality Check)
  • Just so you know, abortion is just like slavery! This message was brought to you by complete idiot Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas. Who should be ashamed for equating hundreds of years of brutal whippings, back-breaking and unrelenting labor, rape, lynching, and all of the other unspeakable acts of cruelty inflicted upon blacks in this country to a woman exercising her right not to be forced to give birth and choosing not to carry a non-viable, non human being in her body. (Politico)
  • Is it a coincidence that the anti-contraception movement wasn’t on the radar of evangelicals until 2011, after Obama took office? HELL NO. (Salon)

The Best of 2013: Looking Back on a Year of Blogging

Did you know that only a handful of Planned Parenthood affiliates have blogs, and we’re one of them? Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is so lucky to have such a talented and devoted group of volunteer bloggers, and thanks to them, 2013 was a great year! Check out our favorite pieces from 2013, which we present below in reverse alphabetical order.

GarnerAndLawrence 150Tori wrote about two landmark LGBTQ-related Supreme Court cases: Bowers v. Hardwick, which affirmed states’ rights to outlaw sodomy in 1986, and Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws nationwide in 2003. First, we were all excited by Tori’s discussion of what happened during the 17 years between 1986 and 2003 to tip the balance in favor of sexual freedom. And then, in an exciting twist of fate, the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act on the 10th anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, just days after Tori’s piece was published! Can you believe that only a decade ago, states were allowed to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults? We’ve come such a long way — although we still, sadly, have a ways to go toward securing true equality.

seasonalleRebecca is a long-time Planned Parenthood volunteer and a practicing pharmacist. She combines her interest in pharmacy with her passion for reproductive justice in her ongoing series Let’s Talk Contraception, which highlights different contraceptive methods and addresses common questions about birth control. Her most popular post this year was her piece about using the Pill to skip periods. Whether you’re interested in skipping a few periods or minimizing menstruation throughout the year, continuous contraception might be for you. What are the pros and cons to birth control methods that allow you to have a period just once or a few times per year? Is it safe? Is it natural? How many periods do we need, anyway? Rebecca’s answer is informative and fascinating!

tumblr_wattletonRachel conducted an interview with Faye Wattleton, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s first African-American — and youngest — president. Her conversation with Ms. Wattleton covered a range of topics, including religion, race and racism, anti-abortion violence, and the progress the movement for reproductive freedom has made over the decades. The entire series is worth a look — but our favorite installment is part 2, in which Ms. Wattleton discusses the connection between her religious upbringing and the work she did with family planning. The thread that ties these seemingly disparate aspects of her background together seems to be the Biblical admonishment against judging others: “Judge not that you be not judged,” as she put it. From a childhood religious tenet to a guiding principle in her interactions with family planning patients, being nonjudgmental is a grounding influence in her life’s work.

PP entranceMatt’s favorite pieces included a post about the FACE Act, which was enacted by President Clinton to curtail anti-abortion violence at clinics. Unfortunately, its uneven enforcement meant that the law hasn’t always lived up to its potential — and some point to that misstep as a factor in recent violence against abortion providers. President Bush’s lax enforcement of the law might have played a part in the 2009 assassination of Dr. Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas. Matt brings together some great reporting to give you an informative and insightful piece — it’s no surprise that RH Reality Check blogger and Crow Before Roe author Robin Marty encouraged her fans to “Read this now!”

breast-examAnna’s favorite pieces were those that tackled pervasive myths about vaccines, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortion. One of these posts dissected the origins of the claim that abortion can lead to breast cancer, which flies in the face of the scientific consensus. This idea is perpetuated by abortion opponents, who use junk science to promote their agenda. Unfortunately, despite a lack of credibility, this claim appears in mainstream publications; in literature offered to clients of crisis pregnancy centers; and in state laws that require pre-abortion counseling to include discredited warnings about a link between abortion and breast cancer. We all deserve accurate information to make informed decisions, but when ideology trumps science, we are robbed of this right.

Bonus: Stacey, our fabulous curator of links, put together a special edition of her regular Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown series, which rounds up the top stories of 2013!

Which posts stood out for you in 2013? Tell us about them in the comments!

2013: A Retrospective

wendy-davis victoryWell folks, 2013 has been quite the year when it comes to women’s issues and reproductive health. Anti-choice Republicans have made every attempt to strip us of our most basic human rights. We dealt with many a jackass. We won. We lost. We came, we saw, and sometimes we even conquered.

Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane, shall we?

  • Trent Franks (from our great state, naturally) told everyone that pregnancies attributed to rape were super low and thus insignificant and not even relevant to the abortion issue.
    (The Daily Beast)
  • zero dollar copayThe Affordable Care Act made birth control available without a co-pay! (Planned Parenthood)
  • But that didn’t go unchallenged, of course. Domino’s Farms, Hobby Lobby, and a gang of other fools think the mandate to cover birth control for women in their insurance policies is a “violation” of their rights and values. That’s right. They believe the pills you take to exert control over what happens in your uterus is not only their business, but something they should have full control over! They also completely disregard the fact that birth control pills are often medically necessary. From PMS, PCOS, and endometriosis relief, birth control pills serve women’s health interests in many important ways. You think these a-holes give any sort of damn about that? NOPE. (RH Reality Check)
  • Plan B emergency contraception is finally available over the counter! (New Civil Rights Movement)
  • wendy davis tennis shoesTexas pretty much went anti-choice nuts this year. But little-known State Sen. Wendy Davis put on her tennis shoes and went to battle for the women of Texas in an effort to kill SB 5, a craptacular proposal that would pretty much annihilate abortion access in the state. This pro-choice dynamo stood on her feet for 11 hours to filibuster the bill. While her efforts were ultimately thwarted by “pro-life” governor Rick Perry (who’s so pro-life he facilitated the execution of more than 200 people), she became a powerful symbol of the pro-choice movement in Texas, and the rest of America. (NYT)
  • A majority of Americans now support a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion! That’s the first time in the 10 years that NBC/WSJ has included the question in their poll. (NBC News)
  • Anti-choice legislators have latched onto “fetal pain” and “heartbeat” bills as their latest strategy to restrict women’s reproductive rights. Neither of those things can be proven as “real” by science, but they’re not going to let pesky facts get in the way of their women-hating mission. (The Atlantic)
  • Dr. Kermit Gosnell committed unspeakable horrors in his abortion clinic, the details of which are not only distressing, but almost physically painful to read. Despite that fact that this is astonishingly rare, he gave credence to to all of the anti-choice vultures and harmed the pro-choice movement in an immeasurable way. (Jezebel)
  • obama planned parenthood national conferenceMr. President had to lay the ultimate smack down on behalf of Planned Parenthood earlier this year. He told all of the anti-choice haters, “Planned Parenthood ain’t goin’ nowhere, chumps!” (OK, he didn’t say that exactly/verbatim, but kinda.) Anyway, thank you, President Obama, for being our advocate and BFF in Chief. (Salon)
  • Another big story this year: More women are purposely forgoing mommyhood and deducing that babies are better when they belong to someone else. It’s like a trend now. Childfree is the new black! (Fem2pt0)
  • 2013: Another year in which abortion clinics got shut down at an alarming rate. Less access to safe abortion. Just what we need. (Think Progress)
  • Lastly, some good news. Four years after his tragic, heartbreaking murder, Dr. Tiller’s clinic reopened this year. His legacy lives on. (Mother Jones)

What will 2014 hold? We can’t predict the future, but one thing is for sure: We will continue to put everything on the line to make sure women have access to the reproductive health care they deserve and have a right to. If we have to be relentless and unyielding in this fight, so be it. The lives of women matter.

We’re here if you need us.

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

Blaming women for the spread of STDs is an age-old tradition.

Blaming women for the spread of STDs is an age-old tradition.

  • If you love food and birth control, and wanna get ’em both at the same place, you should eat here. (LA Times)
  • Millions of women now pay nothing for birth control. It feels so good to type those words. (Mother Jones)
  • Taking woman-hating to a new level: An anti-Obamacare cartoon posted on the website Comically Incorrect claims that men will get more sexually transmitted diseases from “women who now get free birth control” thanks to the health care reform law. This is one of the dumbest, most misogynistic things I’ve seen in a long time. If STDs spread, it’s women’s fault! Not the men who gave them the disease! Yeah. OK. ’Cause men have no responsibility in protecting themselves from STDs. Evil women put them at risk and they’re simply helpless!! (Time)
  • Paid FMLA for pregnant women and those of us with chronic illnesses? YES. PLEASE. (RH Reality Check)
  • So far, there are nine states where you might need “abortion insurance.” Luckily, AZ isn’t one of them. Yet. (ABC News)
  • Not that we aren’t fighting our own uphill battles here. (Arizona Daily Star)
  • Abortion providers make huge sacrifices to care for women. And we are so thankful. (NY Mag)
  • Even after having women (their peers!) stand in front of them telling their emotional stories of rape and miscarriage, Republicans weren’t moved to keep women from having to further endure these atrocities. (USA Today)
  • Congressional dufus Steve Stockman (R-Texas, naturally) is so pro-life that he wishes “babies had guns” to kill their mothers who are considering abortion. Is this real life? I mean, he does know that a fetus can’t survive if the carrier of the fetus is dead, right? (MSNBC)
  • I’m not a scientist or anything, but if birth control is less effective for women over 176 pounds, why don’t they do something to make it more effective? (Jezebel)