AZ Central – The Arizona Republic
As a former GOP lawmaker, let me tell you: Democrats are not the extremists on abortion
Heather Carter – October 31, 2022
In response to Phil Boas’ column, “Meet the extremists: 3 Arizona Democrats make a sharp left turn on abortion”:
You are wrong, Phil.
It is completely ironic that you, as a male, wrote what you did. Your health is not at risk – women’s health is at risk. The unintended consequences of what’s happening in Arizona around the Dobbs decision is dire and you reduced it to a conversation around compromise.
Your assessment on who will or will not compromise is wrong. As a female, former Republican lawmaker, I can tell you that there is zero room in the Republican caucus to have fact-based conversations about anti-abortion legislation.
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I worked for 10 years to make sure that rough edges were smoothed on the “pro-life” bills passed by the Legislature.
What is even more shocking is our Republican congressional delegation, Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert, couldn’t even muster the courage to protect the right to contraception, voting against a bill that would codify the right to condoms, the pill, IUDs and other forms of birth control as decided by the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut.
I served as the House health committee chairwoman for six years. It was nearly impossible to get Republican leadership and enough Republican peers to address the unintended consequences of legislation.
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For example, when I tried to get amendments to “pro-life” legislation to address complex policies regarding lethal fetal abnormalities, the risk of limiting training for future OBGYNs in Arizona or the use of taxpayer dollars to advance religious objectives, my objections fell on deaf ears.
I would have members tell me privately, “I agree with you but I don’t want to risk my primary election if I speak out. I am worried about getting attacked.”
They are not wrong. I lost my Republican primary, and the main “attack” on me was related to my work addressing the unintended consequences of anti-abortion legislation.
With 1 party in power, no one compromises
I have spoken privately to many of my Republican former colleagues at the Arizona Capitol and explained the current challenges related to the Dobbs decision. They were shocked to learn what this could mean for Arizona women but expressed the same reservations as before.
They are operating from a place of fear over being called anything less than 100% “pro-life” for having public conversations around the unintended consequences of legislation.
If you truly want compromise, the only path forward is a balance of power. If one party is in charge – meaning the same party in executive office and the majority in the Legislature – there is zero incentive to compromise or negotiate.
If Republican elected officials negotiate within their own party, they will be called out by the party base and will face a massive attack in their next election.
We saw this happen in the Republican primaries, where those Republicans who spoke out – who told the truth about the 2020 election, for example – were called “RINOs” (Republicans in name only) and every single one lost his or her election.
Heather Carter is a former Republican state lawmaker.