Over the last month, thousands of Arizonans have taken to the streets to demand the state take action to confront structural racism and entrenched white supremacy. In Arizona and across the country, it’s clear that the tides are changing. It’s also clear that in this time of turmoil for our country, we need leaders who will push Arizona forward. It’s time to say goodbye to elected officials hell bent on pushing an extreme, out-of-touch agenda and usher in a new era of leaders committed to upholding our fundamental freedoms.
Senator Martha McSally is not that leader. From exploiting the pandemic to exacerbating xenophobia and racism against Chinese Americans to introducing legislation that would threaten the health, safety, and reproductive freedom of Arizonans, she has weaponized disinformation throughout her short tenure in the Senate to further an extreme ideological agenda. Politicians like Senator McSally are not fit to lead us into a better, brighter future.
McSally seems driven by her eagerness to appease President Trump, who has led the Republican Party’s agenda to control and criminalize marginalized communities – most recently by stoking racial tensions following the murder of George Floyd. Yet despite Trump’s overt racism and his botched response to COVID-19, McSally remains his cheerleader, happily rubber-stamping his extreme ideological agenda. As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Arizona and across the nation, we’re reminded that the stakes of this election could not be higher.
On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on June Medical Services LLC. v. Russo, a case that threatened to shut down abortion clinics, gut the protections of Roe v. Wade, and push access to care even further out of reach for millions. While the narrow 5-4 ruling upheld precedent and deemed Louisiana’s medically unnecessary, anti-choice law unconstitutional, it also left the door open for a more direct attack on Roe v. Wade. Make no mistake – this case was part of a coordinated effort by Republicans to criminalize abortion and roll back access to reproductive health care entirely. The fight for reproductive freedom is far from over.
While the courts can sometimes be a vehicle for oppressed and marginalized groups to find justice, thanks to the efforts of Republican lawmakers like Senator McSally to stack the courts with right-wing ideologues, the threats to reproductive freedom increase by the day. Since McSally was first appointed to the Senate she has helped load the federal judiciary with unqualified, racist, anti-choice, anti-freedom judges with lifetime appointments. With a record like this one, it’s no surprise that Senator McSally currently has a 0% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The reality is this: Arizonans currently face tremendous barriers to access reproductive health care. Arizona already severely restricts access to abortion, including interrogating patients about why they’re ending a pregnancy, forcing delays before a patient can receive abortion care, and subjecting patients to mandatory biased counseling. Black and brown communities are disproportionately impacted by restrictions like these, and without access, the freedom to make personal decisions about abortion is a freedom in name only (so, not at all).
Before Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, legalizing abortion nationwide, Arizona had already passed a ban on abortion. As it stands now, that law runs counter to the Supreme Court ruling and can’t be enforced. But if Roe falls, all bets are off, and Arizonans could see abortion in their state criminalized overnight.
Given the anti-choice majority on the Supreme Court, and the more than 20 cases in the pipeline to challenge Roe, the threat is not a hollow one: it’s a painfully realistic scenario. As we have seen from demonstrations across the country, the criminalization of Black and brown people is a national epidemic – one that would only be further exacerbated by the extreme bans on abortion championed by the Radical Right.
Now here is some good news: Arizonans have real choices this election cycle. Mark Kelly is running against Senator McSally and he knows the decision about if, when, and how to have a child is deeply personal and must be safeguarded.
The people of Arizona deserve leaders who will represent them fairly and advocate for them. Senator McSally has proven that she is not this leader, and will not fight for the freedom and dignity of all Arizonans. As we stand on the precipice of change, we cannot and will not back down in the face of attacks on our ability to determine our own destinies. We must hold politicians like Senator McSally accountable for putting our freedom at risk, and fight for the fundamental rights of everybody.
Caroline Mello Roberson is the Southwest regional director for NARAL Pro-Choice America.