Meet Our Candidates: Dr. Richard Carmona for U.S. Senator

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 Action Fund 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!

When announcing Dr. Richard Carmona’s endorsement by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, President Cecile Richards said that “Arizona women need a champion who has long fought to protect and promote women’s health representing them in Washington” — and as a former U.S. surgeon general, Carmona is uniquely positioned to advocate for scientifically driven, rather than agenda-driven, policies on health and medicine.


“Health care should not be politicized.”


Carmona already has experience fighting for evidence-based health policy in an increasingly polarized political climate. After leaving his position as surgeon general, Carmona testified before Congress that the George W. Bush administration continually hampered his attempts to present scientifically sound public health policy when it conflicted with their political agenda. As Carmona said in his testimony, the Bush administration silenced him on many issues, including emergency contraception and comprehensive sex education — and the public was denied access to the latest unbiased evidence on important public health issues.

Carmona is running against Republican challenger Jeff Flake to succeed Jon Kyl as U.S. senator from Arizona. Flake’s congressional voting record is problematic, and includes support for an amendment to the Affordable Care Act to prohibit abortion coverage, support for defunding Planned Parenthood, and a vote against expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

As a U.S. senator, Carmona can bring his lifetime of experience as a physician and public-health expert to the legislature. When it comes to our medical care, no matter our political affiliations, we all need access to the best scientific evidence, and we need someone who will be a champion for our health in the U.S. Senate.

Dr. Carmona generously took time for an interview with us via telephone on October 3, 2012.


Many of us, including myself, are becoming increasingly concerned about the hostility toward science exhibited by some of our current lawmakers. What can you do to inject reason and scientific evidence into an increasingly politicized discourse about public health?

Well, first and foremost, if you remember my tenure as surgeon general, I had to do that. There was a lot of ideological, nonscientific-driven sentiment, and when necessary I stood up and I addressed the issues appropriately. It wasn’t a perfect world, especially when you have many of those ideologues thinking differently, but nevertheless, I will do the same thing as a senator.

And I think I enter the Senate with, if you will, the imprimatur of being a surgeon general and a trauma surgeon and a registered nurse and a paramedic. I bring all those years of cumulative science to the table as I discuss things with my colleagues. And although they may be ideologically driven, and I will certainly acknowledge their personal beliefs, that’s not science and it’s not fact. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Planned Parenthood’s fearless leader, Cecile Richards, put the verbal smackdown on Todd Akin and the rest of the anti-choice clowns of the GOP at the Democratic National Convention last night. (HuffPo)
  • And then Sandra Fluke chimed in with her own takedown of Mitt Romney! (ABC News)
  • Remember how Arizona (specifically Jan Brewer) passed legislation stipulating that only licensed physicians can provide abortion care? Well, new research concludes nurses and midwives can perform abortions just as safely as doctors. The study echoes research last year that found care delivered by advanced practice nurses is just as safe and effective, if not more so, than care provided by physicians. (Fierce Healthcare)
  • Karen Handel, former exec at the Susan G. Komen foundation, has written a book called “Planned Bullyhood” (haha @ that asinine title) in which she whines incessantly about the fallout from Komen’s ill-fated decision to pull its annual grant for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood. Handel has the nerve to compare us to a “schoolyard thug.” Is that LOL-worthy or what?! She blatantly disregards the fact that it was Komen who decided to prioritize politics over women’s health. She fails to acknowledge it was Komen who was soooo eager to jump on the “Attack Planned Parenthood” bandwagon that they were just fine with ceasing funding for potentially life-saving breast exams to women simply for being patients at Planned Parenthood. Oh, and it was Komen who’d known for-freaking-ever that 3 percent of our services go toward abortion care, but only decided to pull the grant because of a highly charged political climate — without regard for the health of the women we both have a responsibility to serve. But we’re the bullies for fighting on behalf of the women who depend on us for their preventive care??? #YeahRight #NotGonnaFlyLady #TryAgain (The Daily Beast)
  • Fox News is making stuff up (shocking, I know) about the Affordable Care Act and pretending like there isn’t a GOP war on women. In other words, it’s business as usual at Fox News. (Newshound)
  • The prognosis for women in four southern states with high rates of maternal mortality — Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — could be getting even worse thanks to their Republican-led governments trying to decline federal aid to expand Medicaid. (Forbes)
  • The male birth control pill we’ve been waiting 50 years for might finally be on the horizon in the not-so-distant future. (Science 2.0)
  • A new animal study has found that an anti-HIV vaginal ring can prevent virus transmission. Yay science! (Science Daily)
  • Texas continues its fight against Planned Parenthood, and as per usual, it’s women who’ll have to deal with the negative consequences. (CBS News)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Arizona, ever the maverick state when it comes to anti-choice tomfoolery, wants to offer doctors who lie to pregnant women complete immunity from consequences. (Care2)
  • Here’s your all-encompassing digest of anti-abortion laws around the country. You might wanna have an alcoholic beverage nearby while reading. (Jezebel)
  • Republicans have inspired a plethora of insane sex legislation. (Mother Jones)
  • A male birth control pill on the horizon? Legions of pill-popping women are waiting! (Detroit Free Press)
  • Speaking of men, where the hell are they during this war on birth control? (CNN)
  • Planned Parenthood’s fearless leader, Cecile Richards, was a smash on The Daily Show Wednesday night. (RH Reality Check)
  • More on the awe-inspiring badass that is Ms. Richards. (The Nation)
  • Kansas has gone absolutely mad with 69 pages of anti-abortion malarkey, including, but not limited to, taxing women for abortions. (HuffPo)
  • Dear Rush Limbaugh, sex is not, I repeat, not a recreational activity. (Fem 2.0)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Women with children have more abortions than anyone else, and by an increasingly wide margin. So why is the topic taboo? (Slate Double X)
  • If you couldn’t tell from recent events, in America, women’s lives are expendable. (The Hill)
  • GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, is a staunch opponent of birth control and asserts that contraception is a “license to do things.” “Things” that have absolutely nothing to do with him and are none of his damn business, but that’s of no consequence to him you see. In any case, this idiotic statement confirms that Ricky doesn’t want you women having a license to “do things” in the privacy of your own bedrooms that won’t lead to serious consequences like pregnancy! Why should you have that kind of freedom? Where do you think you are, America??? (RH Reality Check)
  • In other, “Rick Santorum likes to speak out of his rectum” news, the birth control adversary recently argued that Republicans should work to lessen single motherhood in order to score political points against their Democratic rivals. You see, single mothers who run households, in Ricky’s opinion, have “a desire for government,” and thus, often vote Democrat. So let’s see if we have this straight: This dunce wants to lessen single motherhood and eliminate birth control because it gives women a “license to do things”? Mmmkay then. How exactly would you lessen single motherhood if you took away birth control? Don’t these goals wildly contradict one another? This guy is in no danger of being recruited by MENSA anytime soon, is he? (Feministing)
  • Planned Parenthood’s stellar leader Cecile Richards opines on how parents are falling short with the “sex talk.” (Time)
  • Can Herman Cain Be Pro-Life but Pro-Choice? Sorry Mr. Pizza Godfather, but no. (Slate Double X)
  • What is Mitt Romney’s real stance on women’s health? Due to his incessant flip-flopping, your guess is as good as ours. (Planned Parenthood)
  • Ten questions for anti-choice candidates who want to make abortion illegal. The first being, how much hard time should a woman do for terminating a pregnancy? I’d like to see if we could get an answer to that humdinger at the next GOP debate. (Ms. Magazine)
  • Medical science FTW: A vaginal gel developed to reduce a woman’s risk of infection with the AIDS virus also cuts the risk of contracting genital herpes! (NYT)

Planned Parenthood’s Thoughts and Prayers Are with Rep. Giffords

PPAA volunteers, Cheryl Cage, and Nancy Young Wright with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during 2010 campaign season

PPAA volunteers, Cheryl Cage, and Nancy Young Wright with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during 2010 campaign season

Statement from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, on shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:

“The thoughts, wishes, and prayers of the entire Planned Parenthood family are with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and all of the victims of the tragic shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday. Congresswoman Giffords is an invaluable and indefatigable advocate and public servant whom we respect for her courageous leadership on behalf of the people of Arizona and women everywhere. She is a fearless champion of health care for all Americans, and she played a vital role in the passage of the most important health care legislation in our nation’s history. She is a close friend of Planned Parenthood, and our staff and supporters in Arizona and across the country fervently hope for her recovery. We mourn all who were killed in this tragedy, and we will keep their families in our thoughts and prayers.”

Please feel free to leave your wishes for Rep. Giffords in the comments section.

Cecile Richards Speaks Out Against Stupak-Pitts

Planned Parenthood condemns the adoption of the Stupak/Pitts amendment in HR 3962 this evening. This amendment is an unacceptable addition to the health care reform bill that, if enacted, would result in women losing health benefits they have today. Simply put, the Stupak/Pitts amendment would restrict women’s access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market, undermining the ability of women to purchase private health plans that cover abortion, even if they pay for most of the premiums with their own money. This amendment reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977.

Planned Parenthood serves three million women every year through its more than 850 affiliate health centers across the country and has worked tirelessly on behalf of those patients for affordable, quality health care. On behalf of the millions of women Planned Parenthood health centers serve, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has no choice but to oppose HR 3962. The bill includes the Stupak/Pitts amendment that would leave women worse off after health care reform than they are today, violating President Obama’s promise to the American people that no one would be forced to lose her or his present coverage under health reform. Continue reading