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Church State Issues

Political puppeteer Cathi Herrod still pulling legislators strings

Mar 8, 2014

Arizona Republic

Posted on March 5, 2014 5:14 pm by EJ Montini

Political puppeteer still pulling legislators strings

The demise of Senate Bill 1062 led some in Arizona to believe that the political puppeteer who controls Republican legislators had left the stage.

No.

The strings with which those lawmakers are manipulated might have gone slack, but they were not cut.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy or Cathi Harrod as I have been calling her And Cathi Herrod, the power behind the Center for Arizona Policy, which was responsible for the anti-gay SB 1062, still controls her elected marionettes.

And she can make them dance.

Less than a week after Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 another piece of legislation pushed by Herrod and the center was approved by the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 2284, which would allow for unannounced inspections of any abortion provider, now goes to the state Senate. If it makes it through the legislature it would most likely be signed by Gov. Brewer.

The legislation sounds benign enough. Why not allow unscheduled inspections of licensed abortion providers?

As it stands, the Department of Health Services must obtain an administrative warrant to do such a thing. And in three years, only once such warrant was even sought.

Still, the marionette who introduced the bill, Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko, says the legislation is meant to protect women. Much of what Lesko and other supporters said about the legislation was a variation on the “talking points” supporting the bill listed on the Center for Arizona Policy’s website.

This is not a surprise to Brian Howard from Planned Parenthood Arizona.

“If this were to become law could it be used by DHS as a form of intimidation and harassment? Yes,” he said. “And while I may not believe the current director of the agency would allow that to happen, how will things be after the election, given that one of the leading candidates for governor has Cathi Herrod as a key advisor?”

Just this week Planned Parenthood and a Tucson gynecologist filed suit asking a judge to block new rules in Arizona that restrict the use of drugs, rather than surgery, in abortions.

This, too, is based on legislation pushed by Herrod and the center.

Essentially, the lawsuit says regulations concerning the use of the drug RU-486 amount to “an unconstitutional burden on their (patents) right to choose an abortion.”

“In what other medical procedure would you require doctors to use outdated treatment on patients when something new is available?” Howard said.

In an essay for The Arizona Republic, Rep. Chad Campbell, the Democratic minority leader, wrote in part, “Extreme conservatives in the Legislature are so out of touch with Arizonans, they can’t be bothered with what is best for the state and its citizens. This is all about their ideology, an ideology that wants to legalize discrimination.

“The Center for Arizona Policy, the organization behind the ‘religious freedom’ bill (SB 1062), has pushed an endless barrage of bills that have attacked women and reproductive health care over the past three years.”

A lot of those laws have wound up in court.

And taxpayers get stuck with the legal fees.

That has included lawsuits over an unconstitutional ban on abortions over 20 weeks and others.

“When we filed in federal court over on this latest case (the issue with RU-486) I believe that was the sixth time since Gov. Brewer started signing these bills that the state has been taken to court. Not always by us,” said Planned Parenthood’s Howard. “With HB 2284 (the abortion provider inspection bill) we have shared with legislators and others the actual hard copy of the case citations on why the requirement for a warrant was put in place. It didn’t matter. In continuing to write and approve laws like this elected officials either look captive to their ideology or they look reckless. Or both.”

Either that, or those elected officials aren’t pulling the strings.

Take a peek behind the curtain obscuring our state’s political puppet theater.

In an interview with reporter Alia Rau of The Arizona Republic after the veto of SB 1062, Cathi Herrod said, “We are not going anywhere.”