Thank You 2014 Luncheon Attendees!

Dear 2014 Luncheon Attendees:

Thank you for supporting Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s 2014 I Stand luncheon. We are tremendously grateful for the wonderful feedback we have received about the event — as well as all the generous donations. Thank you for helping us “Make it Happen in 2014”!

This year’s event was unashamedly political. That focus, and our speakers’ urgency, is driven by today’s reality. For many of the 45,000 women, men, and young people who come to Planned Parenthood Arizona each year — and many thousands more like them across our state — the challenges to access accurate health information and medical services are real and increasingly insurmountable.

I want to address our Republican supporters who may feel personally criticized when  Planned Parenthood Advocates and I take aim at Republican legislators who are leading the assault on women’s health care. This is not the Republican party of the past. I was raised in a Republican family. My 83-year-old mother was an elected Republican author of the modern Illinois state constitution when, in 1970, she successfully defeated a proposal to include an abortion ban. My hope is that we will again see a day when candidates on both sides of the ballot support Planned Parenthood’s vision and values.

Most of us who support Planned Parenthood are motivated by our interest in providing hands-on health care and education. When we think of Planned Parenthood, we think of hope-filled futures in which young women and men can complete educations, get jobs, and raise healthy families. The gritty reality of working in the political trenches wasn’t in our plans.

I am grateful that Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed Felecia Rotellini, Terry Goddard, and Fred DuVal because these individuals clearly recognize the crossroads at which Arizona finds itself with respect to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In my remarks at the opening of these events, I cited my profound concern for the health and futures of the 96,000 young Arizonans who will enter their teens in 2014. I know that you share my concern. Thank you for standing with Planned Parenthood.

Sincerely,

Bryan S. Howard
President

World AIDS Day: The Affordable Care Act Can Help in Creating the Healthiest Generation Ever

HIV_stopEditor’s Note: The following piece is a guest blog post from Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Bryan Howard.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day and this year, as we work to raise awareness around HIV and gather support for those who are living with HIV/AIDS, we should also take a moment to recognize the profound impact that the Affordable Care Act will have on prevention, detection, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.


One in 5 people with HIV is unaware of his or her infection.


With the Affordable Care Act, 1.1 million Americans living with HIV will no longer be denied health insurance coverage because HIV is a “pre-existing condition.” More people living with HIV/AIDS will have access to affordable health insurance coverage to get the care they need, and millions of Americans will have access to preventive health care services that include HIV testing without a co-pay.

There is no doubt that we have come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially given the advances of the ACA, yet the epidemic continues to affect millions of people throughout the world with some communities impacted more than others. In the United States, more than 56,000 people become infected with HIV each year. About one-third of new HIV cases are in young people, ages 13 to 29.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there are more than 15,000 Arizonans living with HIV/AIDS with some of the highest rates in Maricopa and Pima counties.

As the largest nonprofit sexual health care provider in Arizona, Planned Parenthood is committed to reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by providing nonjudgmental, comprehensive, high-quality reproductive health care to all women, men, and young people.

Planned Parenthood Arizona has health centers throughout Arizona that provide a range of health care services, including HIV testing, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings, birth control, vaccinations, and primary care. We also serve as an expert resource in medically accurate sexuality education.

As a trusted health care provider and sexual health educator, we strive to educate women, men, and young people about how to prevent HIV and other STDs. In addition to diligent condom use and regular STD screening, practicing abstinence and having one partner who has no other intimate partners can also help to reduce the risk of getting an STD (including HIV).

So, today I ask you to join Planned Parenthood in fighting for the healthiest generation ever.

About Bryan Howard: Bryan Howard is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona and a board member at Reproductive Health Technology Project, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.

Giving Thanks to Obamacare

thanksgivingThe following guest post comes to us via Morganne Rosenhaus, community engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

This year, as a 20-something woman, I have a whole lot to be thankful for and I want to take a moment to share, because I know it’s not just me the universe is smiling down on.


Those of us celebrating Thanksgiving have so much to be thankful for this year.


I am thankful for the Affordable Care Act — a bill that has and will continue to change the lives of so many people in the United States. I should also say I am equally thankful that the 40-plus attempts to stop the Affordable Care Act from being enacted didn’t pass either (whew!).

I want to take a moment to share what it is about the ACA that makes it so amazing — especially for young women.

Inclusion on your parents’ health insurance until you turn 26. Let’s face it, these days it is not a given that you graduate and immediately start working a full-time job with benefits. Finding a job takes time and sometimes you have to take the part-time waitressing gig, the retail job, or an unpaid internship on the way to landing that dream job. And, newsflash, internships and part-time jobs usually don’t include benefits like health insurance (unless things have changed in the last few years…).

Free birth control. The rumors are true. Birth control is FREE. Just wait until you have that moment where you pick up your pills and don’t pay anything — it is pretty darn exciting.

Tons of other preventive health care benefits that will make your head spin. Free birth control is awesome, but not every woman needs or wants birth control. Other women might be pretty excited for the free breastfeeding supplies and counseling, or interpersonal and domestic violence screening, which are also available at no cost through the ACA.

Affordable health insurance. With cost-sharing and tax premiums available to people who need them most, health insurance is affordable for more people. Plus, if you are a woman, you don’t have to worry about how being a woman might impact your coverage. Can you believe that insurance companies could, at one point in time, charge women more just because being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition?!

Although the Affordable Care Act has been slowly coming together over the past few years, this year had some of the more important, hallmark ACA pieces come to fruition. With the exchanges opening (well, sort of…) in October and coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014 for millions (yes, I said millions) of people, 2013 was sort of a big deal. Plus, starting January 1, 2014, your health insurance really does have to let you get your birth control for free. No more games.

So tomorrow, I am giving thanks to something that has not only changed my life, but also the lives of so many other young women just like me — and it will continue to do so in the coming years!

Happy Thanksgiving!

LGBTQ Legislation in Arizona

Phoenix Gay Pride Parade, 2010. Photo: Fritz Liess via Flickr

Phoenix Gay Pride Parade, 2010. Photo: Fritz Liess via Flickr

I’m certain everyone read yesterday’s post on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (that’s today) and thought, “I’m so glad I live in Arizona, where the state legislature and judiciary would never further oppress an already marginalized group of people!”

Right?

Right?

Of course, the reality is that even recent Arizona lawmakers have established a trend of creating legislation that further harms women, people of color, and poor people. Sadly, we can add gay people and trans* people to that list as well.

Adoption Law — While the state’s current adoption statute allows unmarried people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to petition to adopt, only a “husband and wife” may jointly adopt children. It does not provide for joint adoption by people in other domestic partnerships. In fact, if other factors are equal, current law gives explicit placement preference to “a married man and woman.” Moreover, additional legislation has been introduced at least twice — once in 2006 and once in 2010 — to attempt to require adoption agencies to give “primary consideration” to married couples seeking to adopt.

Speaking of Marriage — Queer folk can’t do that here. If they do get married in a place where the local legislation allows it, the state of Arizona won’t recognize the marriage.

Birth Certificates — The statute does allow for an amended birth certificate if the person applying for such has had “a sex change operation” (sex reassignment surgery) and a note from their doctor saying as much. Certainly this is preferable to not having the option. However, it ignores some of the realities of sex reassignment surgery — that it can actually be a number of surgeries, that it comes with risks (e.g., general anesthetic) that can make it unworkable for some people, that it’s expensive and generally not covered by insurance, that providers are few and far between. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • plannedparenthoodactionorgSince it’s that time of the year again, let’s play a round of anti-choice March Madness! (Mother Jones)
  • The GOP might as well face the facts … They’ve lost women forever. (Salon)
  • Foolish parents continue to put their children at risk for cervical cancer. (RH Reality Check)
  • In honor of Women’s History Month, we present you with 50 women who shaped America’s health. (HuffPo)
  • When Women Have More Control Over Bearing Children, Their Lives Are Obviously Way Better — DUH! (Jezebel)
  • Salon expounds upon this less-than-shocking news. (Salon)
  • Unfortunately, doctors don’t prescribe long-acting contraception for adolescents very often. (Healio)
  • A whopping 233 million women may need contraception by 2015. (NBC News)
  • In case you weren’t aware, the Catholic Church has quite the costly stance on contraception. (MSNBC)
  • Completely disregarding the ruined life of the victim, CNN instead expressed grief that the guilty verdict ruined the “promising” lives of Steubenville rapists. Uggghhh. (Rawstory)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Photo by Dave Bledsoe, made available under Creative Commons license.

    In a new push for the medically unnecessary and imbecilic concept of “personhood,” Arizona anti-choicers are pushing a bill to track every embryo ever. (RH Reality Check)
  • Asinine Arkansas just passed a bill outlawing abortions at 12 weeks — the most extreme abortion ban in the country. (CRR)
  • In case you weren’t aware, abortion providers risk their lives and property in the name of choice. (Truth-out)
  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is putting the finishing touches on legislation that would guarantee women in New York the right to late-term abortions when their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable. (NYT)
  • Guess what, anti-choicers? Better Prenatal Testing Does Not Mean More Abortion. So get a friggen clue already. (The Atlantic)
  • In a thought-provoking piece, clinic workers answer tough questions on abortion. (Tres Sugar)
  • Surprisingly, German Bishops OK Contraception in Rape Cases (ABC News)
  • Two ultrasound bills are making their way through the Indiana legislature. And they both suck. (HuffPo)

A Conversation With Faye Wattleton: Part 2, Belief and Mission

Ms. Wattleton speaks out against George H.W. Bush’s gag rule, which banned any mention of abortion in federally funded family-planning programs.

Faye Wattleton was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992. She was generous enough to speak to me on January 7, 2013, and throughout the month of February we’ll be sharing her experiences and perspectives in observance of Black History Month. In this second installment, we discuss her religious beliefs and their influence on her work, which came up often in our conversation.

Religion was a strong influence during Faye Wattleton’s childhood and remains so in her adult life. She grew up in a fundamentalist family, and that religion, along with her experiences as a nurse, brought her to a belief in individual freedom that was absolute, including the conviction that every woman has the right to make her own reproductive choices.

When I asked about her work for reproductive rights, she said, “My view about that is perhaps most reflective of my religious upbringing, with respect to who shall judge. Judge not that you be not judged.”


“Our reproduction is still a proxy for the larger question of our full status as human beings and as citizens.”


That religious upbringing was shaped by the fact that her mother was an ordained minister in the Church of God, and her calling determined the course of Wattleton family life. While Faye was still little, this calling took her and her parents away from St. Louis and the safety of extended family. When she reached school age, her parents left her with families within the church, each year in a different place. During this time, she learned to rely on herself and think independently, perhaps preparing her to be a leader while keeping her within the protective bubble of the greater Church of God community.

The Church of God is Christian, Protestant, foundational, evangelical, and charismatic. Members believe in prayer, the inerrancy and literal truth of the Bible, personal salvation, and the unique, individual revelation of the Holy Spirit, which might include speaking in tongues. Ms. Wattleton often heard her mother preach and witnessed the emotional responses of her listeners in churches and revival meetings.

While her mother evangelized, bringing others to what she saw as the only way to God, Ms. Wattleton’s sense of mission came from the conviction that each person acts within unique life circumstances that must be respected. When I asked about this difference between her mother and herself, she replied that it “probably was due to my early training as a nurse. I went to college as a 16-year-old, graduated at 20. And so I was really deeply influenced by my professional training and exposure [to other people’s lives and problems]. It’s possible that, had I chosen a different profession, I may have seen life differently, but this is the profession that I chose.” Continue reading