After many citizens across Arizona learned that Planned Parenthood Arizona was purposefully excluded from the State Employees Charitable Campaign, they channeled their fury into swift and proactive responses.
One state employee, Aanya Rispoli, started an online petition demanding that Governor Doug Ducey and the SECC put Planned Parenthood back on the list, while another anonymous donor agreed to match any outside donation to Planned Parenthood Arizona up to $10,000.
This donor, Planned Parenthood Arizona writes on Facebook, “wants to send a message to the Ducey administration that politicizing state employees' philanthropy and attacking Planned Parenthood backfires.”
As New Times reported yesterday, in what appears to be a political move, the SECC rejected Planned Parenthood Arizona’s application for the first time since 1983 — conservative, religious-based organizations remain on the state-approved list. When the group questioned the decision, SECC Executive Director Linda Stiles would only say that it “is not the best fit with the mission or standards of the campaign.”
But as Rispoli points out in her online petition, even just a cursory glance at the Planned Parenthood websites reveals that it does “meet the health services criteria.”
According to the SECC’s own rules, a group is eligible if it is “a nonprofit, tax exempt, charitable organization being supported through voluntary contributions from the general public and providing direct and primary health and human services or those actively engaged in environmental or historical protection, enhancement, restoration, preservation or conservation.” (Emphasis by SECC.)
In addition to the SECC, many are pointing fingers at Governor Ducey, who serves as SECC chairman and is responsible for selecting the state agency's executive director. Ducey is a conservative pro-life Catholic and well-known critic of Planned Parenthood — earlier this year, he ordered state officials to investigate Arizona Planned Parenthood clinics for evidence of illegal fetal sales, even though Arizona does not, and never has, had a fetal-tissue donation program.
The only comment from Ducey’s office about the decision has been a statement from his spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato: “The governor supports this decision by the committee. The state has to be responsible about which programs to include, and [Planned Parenthood has] been embroiled in controversy.”
Other organizations dropped this year include a local office of the Clinton Foundation and a Girl Scout Troop, while groups like the religious-based Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family survived the cut.
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“I have been a long-time supporter of PP, my daughter has become a vocal advocate for reproductive health and rights, and I support the work PP does in Arizona and across the nation. They have been there for me, many of my friends, and now our children,” Rispoli writes on her petition.
“If you're a fellow state employee, please don't be afraid to speak up, sign and share this petition, and let's work together to stop the attack on one of our most important healthcare providers in the country.”