Victoria Steele: Thoughtful voting even more important now

2014-07-08T00:00:00Z Victoria Steele: Thoughtful voting even more important nowBy Victoria Steele Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions are a stark reminder that elections matter.

Who would have believed that 41 years after the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, we’d still be fighting over women’s access to birth control and safe, legal abortion.

Last week, in a decision that will likely affect millions of women, the Supreme Court ruled that employers can deny women access to birth control benefits based on a business owner’s personal religious beliefs.

Earlier in June, the high court dealt another blow to women’s health when it struck down a buffer zone law that protects patients and staff members at clinics where abortions are provided. This ruling subjects women to running a gantlet of harassment from protesters as they are making private medical decisions.

This year the Arizona Legislature passed a law allowing surprise inspections of women’s health clinics without a warrant. They also passed SB 1062, a law (vetoed by the governor) that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against people based on the owner’s personal religious beliefs.

Within hours of the high court’s ruling, Cathy Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy — the same group behind the clinic-inspection law and the discriminatory SB 1062 — said the decision “breathes new life” into the center’s efforts, and it will revisit the issue when the new legislative session starts next January. This makes it even more imperative that you know where your legislators and candidates stand on these issues.

The groups that were behind those bills are also supporting bills to require women seeking abortions to undergo a forced invasive transvaginal probe even when it’s medically unnecessary. The same groups are trying to pass fetal personhood bills that would ban all abortions without exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother, and would make some forms of birth control illegal. Do not be surprised when these bills and a new version of SB 1062 are introduced in Arizona next year — expect it.

Anti-choice activists don’t just want to ban abortion; they want to ban all birth control and other reproductive health options.

I believe people should be able to make their own important life decisions, including whether or when to become a parent. In order to make those decisions wisely, they must have access to medical information, birth control and, when needed, safe, legal abortion. A woman’s deeply personal health-care decisions should not be placed in the hands of judges, politicians and bosses.

Yes, elections matter. If you care about a woman’s access to safe reproductive health care, if you think government should not come between a woman and her doctor, then make sure you know where the candidates stand on those issues and vote accordingly.

Rep. Victoria Steele, a Democrat representing Tucson’s District 9 in the state Legislature, is running for re-election. Contact her at vsteele@azleg.gov

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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