Of course they ignored repro rights at the Channel 12 debate.


Crossposted at DemocraticDiva.com

ducey duval

In Wednesday night’s gubernatorial debate hosted by KPNX Channel 12 candidates Fred DuVal (D) and Doug Ducey (R) were asked about topics ranging from the economy to taxation to Common Core school standards to the border and immigration policy. My assessment of it was that Ducey would have gotten away with his recitation of talking points with no specifics to every question were it not for moderator Brahm Resnik, who does not care for that and pressed him for details, causing Ducey to flail. DuVal was definitely better prepared to answer the actual questions.

Noticeably absent, to me and other reproductive rights advocates, were any questions about women’s health and family planning. This deliberate elision is far too common here and not something seen in other red states North Carolina and Texas, where candidates are debating things like abortion and contraception vigorously, as they should since anti-choice laws are being passed like crazy in them. But, for some reason, the mainstream news people in Arizona tend to be squeamish about the topic. You may see the question come up, briefly, in one or two major debates but not in most of them. On the rare occasion moderators do ask it’s typically to allow the GOP candidate to express his support for “exceptions for rape and incest” with no follow-up questions.

This reluctance to draw candidates out on their reproductive rights stances has frustrated and puzzled me for years. My guess is it stems from the obsession with “moderation” in some powerful circles here and the unwavering faith that this can somehow be achieved through “civility” (meaning not calling the Republicans out forcefully on their bad behavior). The only journalist who seems to give the constant stream of anti-choice legislation coming out of the Arizona Legislature the coverage it merits is Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services. The rest mostly ignore it, as if treating the subject as too controversial and polarizing to cover will somehow make it go away. But it won’t. Anti-choice activists and legislators are not at all squeamish about pushing for creepy, misogynistic, unconstitutional bills that the state then spends millions of dollars defending in court. The bills that do succeed in being implemented as laws brutalize poor women and end up costing the state through unplanned pregnancies and the child abuse and neglect that can sometimes ensue from them.

These attacks on women’s rights come up every year and are sent to the Governor’s desk, therefore it matters who that Governor is and how he or she handles them. At its heart this is a debate over women’s autonomy and ability to participate fully in society, which also happens to have a profound impact on the well-being of children. It’s at least as important as Common Core so it’s not too much to ask for hosts of debates and endorsement boards to devote five minutes to the subject, is it?


  1. Sorry Steve, I guess my observations at numerous Republican forums I have been to around Arizona are erroneous. I am in my 50’s and I have, at every single forum, been one of the the youngest persons in the room. I see no young people at the GOP forums. If guess all the younger GOP voters must all be working or taking care of kids, on Facebook, at the gun range, or elk hunting. They are certainly not at any forums.

    • Had I realized that your evidence was based on anecdotal observations I wouldn’t have asked for your source. I thought you had come across some sort of demographic chart or proof that Republicans are all old and I was curious to see it.

      The truth is that you are not far off when you suggest (tongue in cheek, no doubt) that “all the younger GOP voters must all be working or taking care of kids, on Facebook, at the gun range, or elk hunting. They are certainly not at any forums.” It speaks to basic difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats love to go to marches and speeches and forums and gatherings. Whenever you hear about a “march on something”, you be about 90% assured that it is a group of Democrats upset about one thing or another. It is rare that Republicans march on anything. It is not part of the mindset of the average Republican to get out there and march on anything or to attend political forums, expecially among the younger GOP members. They have to get riled up to do so. So when you go to a forum, you will see the older Republicans who are looking for something to do, not the younger ones that already have full plates. Fortunately, they DO vote, and usually they vote with enthusiasm.

      Now let me make it clear: the Tea Party can be a wild card in all of this. Their rallys tend to have a goodly number of younger Republicans because they are stirred up by the Tea Party rhetoric. If you want to see the younger Republicans, go to a Tea Party rally. Or stand outside the voting booth.

  2. Another topic that was ignored, in the televised debate drawing probably the largest TV audience any will get, was gun violence. Yes, I realize the Important People in the state don’t consider that relvant either but gosh we sure do have a lot of gun deaths here, don’t we?

    • I’d love to see what I would consider a middle road in this debate. I’m thinking along the lines of treating guns like we treat automobiles. You can purchase a gun only if holding a license showing that you’ve been through a basic gun safety course or can demonstrate knowledge of these concepts. To be able to use such things as semi-automatic weapons, it would require a higher level of knowledge and licensing.

  3. The majority of the GOP voters are not of reproduction age anymore, so they are happy with the Arizona Center for the Taliban and Olmstead doing everything they can to prevent women making their own choice without coercion.

    • “The majority of the GOP voters are not of reproduction age anymore…”

      Where did you get this little jewel of information? Just made it up on the spot, eh?

  4. My understanding was that this debate was about Education and the Economy & that other topics would be discussed at future debates that are scheduled. Abortion rights and a woman’s right to choose for herself when & if to bear a child are huge issues for me and something I have to know before I vote for a candidate…and definitely a priority issue but I was not expecting it in this debate because of the stated topics. I certainly hope it will be a part of future debates.

    I also would like to say that this Moderator was one of the best I’ve ever seen, never let the candidates evade the questions, and asked intelligent follow-up questions.

    • Yeah, but therein lies part of the problem. The Channel 12 debate will possibly have the largest audience of any of them and they arbitrarily allowed only certain topics to be discussed (I guess SB1062 made it as an acceptable topic because it was considered an “economic issue”). Repro rights aren’t some dumb fringe thing like flag burning. They are serious business and the constant subject of legislation. The AZ MSM and business establishment avoid talking about it because they are chickenshits.

      I’m sure it will come up in a future ed board or debate. If past is precedent the moderator will ask Ducey his position and allow him to put on his sad face and say that of course, he’s for rape and incest exceptions and then they’ll move quickly on to the next topic.

    • Well put, Donna (Crane).

      I also wonder: Is it productive to debate reproductive rights? And wouldn’t it work to DuVal’s disadvantage? ( Progressives, I’m on your side, so please read to the end to understand why I raise this before attacking me on this point)

      Anyone who is engaged enough to watch the debate (a) has a fairly firmly entrenched position on reproductive rights that neither Ducey or DuVal is going to impact with his answer to a question, and (b) already knows where each candidate stands on reproductive rights.

      I note also that neither of these candidates has an outlying view on reproductive rights, relative to his views in general. Ducey is a die-hard tea partier. His stance on reproductive rights is exactly what you would think it is. Same for DuVal. If you know his politics generally, you know he’s pro-choice. So, a question won’t evoke any responses that the viewers wouldn’t predict.

      If I were either Ducey or DuVal, and I wanted the debate to be an opportunity to persuade someone who’s either leaning the other way or undecided, I couldn’t think of a topic less conducive to such persuasion than reproductive rights. Conversely, if I were either candidate and I wanted to avoid voter movement as a result of the debate, I’d welcome questions on reproductive rights, because I could mindlessly repeat my talking points, knowing that nobody would change their mind as a result of what either I or my opponent was saying.

      Now, put that into the context of this debate, I submit that questions on reproductive rights hurt DuVal because on other topics he has a real chance to expose Ducey’s weaknesses in a way that voters could be moved. I’d also guess that Fred feels the same way. He was the guy on the attack in the debate. He was the one quicker on his feet. Why would he want to trade that chance to shine for a mindless back and forth on firmly entrenched positions that would bore everybody and persuade nobody?

      • Please everyone note that I’m not talking about DuVal’s campaign here. I am talking about debates / forums / ed boards and also the general chickenshitted unwillingness of the MSM (Howie Fischer excepted) here to give this issue the coverage it deserves.

  5. Steve, I don’t think your assertion that Roe v. Wade settled the issue for most people is correct.

    In Arizona, Cathi Herrod & the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), have been very active & successful in getting legislation passed to limit a woman’s reproductive rights. Take a look at their website where they list their legislative successes on these issues: http://www.azpolicy.org/media-uploads/pdfs/CAP-%20SupportedBillsThatBecameLaw.pdf

    Significantly Ducey lists Herrod’s support of him on his campaign website where she touts his “pro-life” stance: http://dougducey.com/supporters/

    DuVal & his supporters come from the opposite side of the issue: http://www.prochoicearizona.org/in-our-state/voter-.shtml

    Thus reproductive rights are an issue which the legislature in this state regularly addresses & one in which the 2 candidates have significantly different views. I think those issues are worthy of discussion & debate, especially since some have the mistaken impression that the issue was settled by Roe v. Wade.

    • When I say the isssue was settled by Roe vs Wade, I mean in terms of the big picture. I don’t mean to imply there are not efforts to peel back some of the effects of the law, but the majority of these efforts are shot down by the courts as unconstitutional. And no one has attempted to repeal Roe vs Wade.

      I think most Americans are uncomfortable with the concept of abortion, but not birth control. So most discussions about reproductive rights are about abortion which is what I talk about most when I address the issue. I accept abortion in the first two trimesters, but I am opposed to it in the last trimester when the baby is viable. I would, of course, always have an exception for the health of the Mother which is always paramount, but I see few exceptions beyond that. That puts me in the position of opposing some proposed laws and in favor of others. And I always oppose laws restricting access to birth control products.

      I, too, want to see discussions continue if only to keep each other informed of what is going on. For instance, I was not aware of some of the information you provided me with your links. Despite having different opinions, you helped me with some information I didn’t have before which is a goos thing. It won’t necessarily change my opinion, but it helps me understand.

  6. I was under the impression that the debate was intended to focus only on education and the economy. I think some of the other 3 debates will touch on social issues with more discussion.

      • I’d be concerned that considering reproductive rights as an economic issue could lead to charges that those who are pro-choice think abortion should be encouraged as part of an issue of economy. If you can keep the discussion strictly focused along the lines of access to contraceptives and maternal health providers, it might be easy enough to portray it as caring for society and children.

  7. I would definitely use different verbiage, but I’d also posit that reproductive rights are to some extent a non-issue. Abortion and contraception are unlikely to become illegal any time in the foreseeable future, so there’s not much political benefit to staking out a position on such issues.

    Keep nibbling at Ducey on other issues. Many are starting to look more critically at Ducey’s prior actions and what DuVal brings to the table.

    • A non-issue? Really? That’s certainly not the way that people opposed to abortion and contraception are acting. They’re having a grand time getting access to them chipped away at, via TRAP laws and Hobby Lobby attacks on birth control. Then there are the recent cases of women having their miscarriages and stillbirths investigated and prosecuted. I obviously pay more attention to this issue than most people do but I’m honestly stunned to see you blithely stating that abortion and contraception are safe. They’re not.

      And there’s no better time than the present to draw attention to reproductive rights. I think candidates should do that but I demand that journalists and debate forums address it since anti-choice bills land on the Governor’s desk every session and have real consequences.

  8. Another possible explanation for the subject of reproductive rights not being discussed is that it doesn’t register as an important subject for most Arizonans. Yes, I realize it is important to you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is that important to the majority. For most of us the issue was settled with Roe vs Wade. Granted, individual laws governing reproductive rights are proposed (and sometimes passed) regularly, but that is when we worry about it and deal with it. It isn’t a subject that occupies us all the time as it does you. Life consists of many more important issues. Just because you can’t keep it in proportion doesn’t mean the rest of us must follow suit.

      • I was just offering up an alternative explanation as to why the subject wasn’t discussed at the Debate. Some people are one issue voters and it is hard for them to understand that there are other issues that equally, if not more, important to other voters.

        Don’t give up hope…it just might be included in future debates.

        • ” Some people are one issue voters and it is hard for them to understand that there are other issues that equally, if not more, important to other voters.”

          Jesus. Like I don’t write about a fuckload of other things. But I do write about repro rights a lot, partly because I have to continue to remind people like you that they are under relentless attack, despite your blithe insistence that “the issue was settled with Roe v Wade”.

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