Did you know that women are the majority of voters in the United States? In fact, there were 10 million more women voters than men in the 2008 election. Why is it, then, that women only make up 17% of Congress? And why is it that issues such as women’s health continue to be relegated to the back burner?
Arizona is an interesting state, because we actually have a long history of women serving in political office here, in particular in the governor’s seat. Who can forget Rose Mofford and her sassy beehives? The irony, however, is that having a woman in office does not always mean that women are being fairly represented. Jan Brewer is the perfect example. During her time in office, Jan Brewer has systematically set back women’s rights, especially when it comes to women’s access to reproductive health care services.
A group of community organizers called Women for Goddard is hoping to change the political climate. They are mobilizing 5,000 female voters in support of Terry Goddard’s bid for governor, and they are reaching out to voters who are registered, but who haven’t voted in recent elections. Women for Goddard recently held a phone bank, where 500 volunteers each committed to call 10 women. Each of those volunteers will remain in contact with their voters until the election to make sure that the women get to the polls. The goal is to tip the balance of the scales in favor of Terry Goddard. And they are doing it one phone call at a time.
Rachel Denny is a high school student and a member of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Advocacy Group. Rachel says that although she is in high school, this election is important to her. “With pressing topics such as women’s health and sex education, every single vote makes a difference.” Rachel says that she was inspired to attend the recent phone bank for Terry Goddard because, “meeting with the other women really gave me a sense of hope for the future. It was also really wonderful to see other women as passionate as I am about women’s rights.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Zoe Warren a member of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, at the U of A. Zoe says, “it was interesting having so many women in one room, there was definitely a lot of good energy!” Since Zoe is a seasoned pro at phone banking, she knew that the Women for Goddard event would be a good fit for her. “This election is crucial,” explains Zoe, “not only for women’s health, but also many other issues that are really important to me, such as education, the economy, and immigration.”
Immigration was a motivating factor for Emilia Eldridge, a U of A alum and member of Planned Parenthood’s Community Action Team. “SB1070 is a racist and poor solution to address immigration,” says Eldridge. “Being a Mexican-American and fourth-generation Arizonan, I cannot afford to have Jan Brewer the next elected governor of this state.”
When asked what the election means to women her age, Emilia explains that “the upcoming election is crucial for any woman who is pro-choice, supportive of education, and knows the importance of social services. I think specifically for women my age, they are deciding if this state is a place they want to continue to live in.”
Malinda Briggs couldn’t agree more. Malinda is another member of Planned Parenthood’s Community Action Team. Malinda says that she joined Women for Goddard because she is disgusted by the actions that Jan Brewer and the state legislature have taken. “This is a critical election for the state of Arizona,” says Briggs. “The legislature has passed such extreme legislation, and we need a strong, pro-choice governor to stop the assault. I want to make sure that we elect a governor who has the best interests of women and children at heart.”
Terry Goddard’s record is the best evidence that he supports women. Goddard is very clear about his support for a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, and he favors medically accurate, comprehensive sex education.
The comparison to Jan Brewer couldn’t be more stark. Jan Brewer supports every facet of HB2564, the Omnibus Abortion Bill that was passed in 2009. The bill includes: waiting periods for abortion; restrictions of the types of medical personnel who may perform abortion (regardless of specialized training); the “informed consent” script that health care providers must read women who are seeking an abortion; notarized parental consent for minors seeking abortion; and allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill a birth control prescription or dispense emergency contraception. Jan Brewer also opposes medically accurate, comprehensive sex education, and she has declined federal funding for sex education, even though Arizona’s schools could use an influx of cash.
Don’t be deceived by the lipstick and the dress. Jan Brewer is not the candidate who represents the best interests of the women in Arizona. Women should look at the facts and vote for the candidate who will support women’s health care. That candidate is Terry Goddard.