Five Years Later: Reflections on the 2011 Tucson Shooting

The following guest post comes to us via Edna Meza Aguirre, regional associate development director for Planned Parenthood Arizona. Edna is a native Tucsonan, bilingual and bicultural. She received her JD from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and worked in the area of criminal defense for 12 years before changing careers.

Gabby Giffords with Planned Parenthood Arizona's president and CEO, Bryan Howard, at a 2010 event in Tucson

Gabby Giffords with Planned Parenthood Arizona’s president and CEO, Bryan Howard, at a 2010 event in Tucson

On Saturday, January 8, 2011, at 7:04 a.m., Jared Lee Loughner began his day at a Tucson Walmart. He purchased ammunition for his semi-automatic handgun, a 9 mm Glock pistol. Sometime around 7:34 a.m., he was pulled over for running a red light. When his check revealed no outstanding warrants, he was given a warning and allowed to go.

Two and half hours later, he arrived at a Tucson Safeway grocery store, stood about four feet from U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, aimed his gun, and shot her in the head. He didn’t stop there. By the end of his shooting rampage, 14 people were injured and six families were left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives as they planned funerals for the six victims murdered that morning. Among the dead, a 9-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green, and the Honorable Judge John Roll, chief judge of the U.S. District of Arizona.

“The agony of that day drove home for me that ‘safety’ can be an illusory term.”

Loughner’s Glock also ended the lives of Dorothy “Dot” Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, and Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman. An aide to Gabby, Gabe was the first congressional worker to die in the line of duty.

Christina-Taylor had a burgeoning interest in our political system. Rep. Giffords was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event, created precisely for members of the public like Christina-Taylor, who wanted to learn more about their government. Christina-Taylor had come into the world on a painful day — September 11, 2001. She had been featured in the book Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11. Her spunk and joy provided invaluable happiness to all around her. A child born on a tragic day was to meet with Gabby so she could learn how to contribute to her world. Christina-Taylor had just been elected to her student council.  Continue reading

Ron Barber Takes a Stand for Women’s Health

Editor’s Note: What follows is our unedited, exclusive interview with Ron Barber, the candidate who is running to complete Gabrielle Giffords’ term in Congressional District 8. Barber has worked with Giffords since she was elected to Congress in 2006, after which he became the head of her Tucson office. He is endorsed by both Giffords and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Prior to his work with Giffords, he navigated bureaucratic red tape as head of the Southern Arizona branch of the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, advocating for vulnerable members of the community. With strong bipartisan support, and strong roots in Southern Arizona, Barber will stand for CD8 in Washington — but first, he needs your vote. The election will be held on June 12, 2012; you can also vote by early ballot.

“Our federal and state budgets should reflect our values and not the extreme positions of a few legislators.”

Please give me a little background on yourself: where you grew up, your education, how long you’ve lived in Tucson.

I have lived here in Southern Arizona most of my life, running a small business with my wife, Nancy, and helping solve community problems — whether it was heading up Congresswoman Giffords’ district operations to help people get results by cutting through federal agency red tape, or working for 35 years to look out for people with disabilities.

I was born in England, but went to high school in Tucson, where I met my wife, Nancy. We were high school sweethearts — we first started dating in 1960 and have been together ever since. I went to the University of Arizona, here in Tucson, and received a bachelor’s degree. I’ve lived in Tucson for over 50 years — my children and grandchildren all live here as well.

What women’s health care issues do you see will need to be addressed in the remainder of this legislative term and in the next?

Access to basic care is still a major issue for women’s health. We must ensure that regardless of state laws on abortions or funding, Planned Parenthood and other clinics continue to receive funds to provide basic health care to women — from cancer screenings to mammograms. Continue reading

Special Election on June 12: Ron Barber Stands with Planned Parenthood

It’s pretty safe to say that nearly all of the political advertisements and newspaper articles covering the Congressional District 8 race between Ron Barber and Jesse Kelly have focused on Social Security and Medicare. But, the issue of women’s health care is also critical — and one that hasn’t received much attention.

Jesse Kelly is an avowed anti-choice candidate and has received support from the National Right to Life Political Action Committee. Barber, when asked about his position on choice and women’s health care, said he has always been pro-choice and believes women’s health care decisions must be made between women and their doctors.

Ron Barber is running to finish Gabrielle Giffords’ term in the June 12, 2012, special election. Early voting starts on May 17.

“There has been too much political debate about limiting our freedoms,” he told us. “Women have the right to make their own choices about contraception and any interference from the government or employers is an affront to personal liberty.”

The debate on women’s health care used to center on abortion. It has now expanded to include the availability of contraception and the “right to refusal” — so-called consciousness clauses that allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception, employers to opt out of providing insurance coverage for birth control, and health care providers to refuse emergency care for pregnant women. Barber, as do most Americans, believes that the “availability of contraception was an issue we settled 50 years ago” and employers, insurance companies, and pharmacists should not put themselves between a woman and her doctor. Continue reading