Steele Resolve for Arizona
Eliminating Gun Violence.
“Thank you for your confidence and faith in me. I am back in the Arizona Senate fighting for you!“
An Arizona bill allowing the parents of children conceived because of rape to terminate their rapists’ parental rights passed the state legislature on Monday.
The bill, SB1007, which previously passed the state congress, also passed the state senate unanimously on Monday, with four senators abstaining. The bill will now move on to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk to be signed. Democratic State Sen. Victoria Steele, who introduced the bill, celebrated its success in a statement obtained by Newsweek:
“Women shouldn’t be forced by law to share parental rights with rapists. Words cannot express how elated and grateful I am to my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House for passing my bill and finally sending it to the Governor,” said Steele. “No one should be tethered to their rapist and abuser for life by being forced to share parental rights.”
This is not the first time Steele has attempted to pass a law protecting parents of children conceived by rape from having to co-parent with their rapists. In February 2020, Steele withdrew a similar bill from senate consideration after the committee chairman, Republican Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, demanded she amend the bill by adding an exception that would protect rapists who had sexually assaulted their spouse.
“I was forced to pull my bill because the committee chairman held my bill hostage with the demand that I allow an amendment to exempt married victims who are raped by their spouses,” Steele said at the time. “While I am open to reasonable negotiations to get a bill passed, I am not willing to compromise the safety of anyone who has been raped, the safety of their child, and my integrity.”
Steele’s bill faced no such impediment from lawmakers on Monday, and she took to Twitter to celebrate, thanking legislative colleagues, saying: “OMG it passed unanimously! My bill SB1007 passed!!! Done! Women no longer will be forced to co-parent w/rapists. Thx@sierra4azfor getting SB1007 passed in House; @espinozadiego19, @reginaldbolding & @jenlongdon for the assist. My god…thanks to the staff!! You are amazing.”
In her statement obtained by Newsweek, Steele addressed her personal connection to the bill, saying, “As a victim of sexual assault myself, I know firsthand the trauma and pain victims of rape experience. While we cannot change what happened in the past, we can change what happens in the future and lessen the pain by not allowing a rapist parental rights. This was the correct and good thing to do.”
Thirty-two other states in addition to Arizona have legislation allowing the termination of the parental rights of rapists who conceive a child as a result of an assault, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Teacher, southern Arizona political leaders react to Biden’s universal Pre-K plan
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – Even while the GOP-led ballot counting of Maricopa County’s 2020 presidential election ballots is on hiatus, the dueling continues.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said during a press briefing today that “I am compelled once again that what we’re seeing happen is not an audit, it’s a fundraising stunt.”
Hobbs responded to a meeting called by AZ Senate President Karen Fann Tuesday to receive an update on the process.
The meeting was uneventful excepts for Fann’s statement that she’s been receiving phone calls from Senate presidents and others around the country asking about the process and expressing concern their state’s face the same issue.
Hobbs says that’s a concern.
“There’s an allusion to the fact they might expand the scope of audits to other counties or expand it to other races on the ballot,” Hobbs said.
Pima County elections director Brad Nelson said he has not heard anything official about plans to move it to Pima County but it has been a topic of conversation.
Fann has been defending the scope of the audit and her reasons behind it.
“Our job is to make sure voters and constituents understand the process and have full confidence in our election integrity,” Senator Fann said.
Hobbs also said it was a concern to her that several lawmakers were not allowed to attend the meeting and were asked to leave and reflects her frustration with the process.
“I’m concerned that members, duly elected members of the Senate were not allowed to be in the hearing,” she said. “Or whatever it was we saw yesterday.”
One of those asked to leave is District 9 State Senator Victoria Steele.
“I think it indicates a lack of transparency,” Steele said. “That has been pretty much the status quo the entire time this has been going on.”
Steele does not believe the vote-counting is to establish or protect election integrity.
“I think there are those out there who just want to cast doubt and chaos on our elections,” she said. “And they are encouraging this made-up claim of fraud.”
Even though the counting has stopped for the time being because the space they rented, the Phoenix Memorial Coliseum, is being used for graduation ceremonies, organizers say they will return next week.
They also said the process should be complete by the end of June.
Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.
The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Nearly 3 million American women have suddenly vanished, and we have no idea if they’ll ever return. We of course mean the women who have been forced to drop out of the labor force over the past year in a COVID-related exodus that will have an impact lasting generations.
The Pew Research Center reports nearly 2.5 million more women than men lost their jobs from February to May last year. As school buildings closed, women have had to leave jobs to care for children.
Female business owners have had to close their doors, not knowing if they’ll ever reopen. Black, Latina and other women of color, already far behind their white male and female counterparts, have been pushed even further into poverty. Over a year into the pandemic there is no doubt that women are bearing the brunt of this ongoing social and economic catastrophe.
Arizona is not immune from this crisis. According to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, more than 1 million Arizonans will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. For those Arizonans, staying home during a pandemic can be deadly.
In 2020, the Pima County Attorney’s Office experienced an up to 50% increase in domestic violence cases during some months compared to 2019. “Since March, it’s about a 32% increase in the amount of felony-level cases coming through the Pima County Attorney’s office,” Joseph Ricks, domestic violence supervisor for the Pima County Attorney’s Office said.
Ed Mercurio-Sakwa, CEO of Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse in Tucson has said that Emerge experienced a declining number of calls during the height of the pandemic, and they’re only just beginning to return to normal levels. That’s because victims who called the hotline said that isolating with their abusers made reaching out for help more challenging and dangerous.
While these numbers are alarming, there are solutions to help Arizona women and children, if Arizona’s leaders and governor are brave and compassionate enough to take them on. Arizona state and local governments will receive an estimated $7.48 billion that could be spent any time before the end of 2024, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, passed by Democrats and signed by President Biden.
That’s money for our communities, schools, workers, families and so much more to build back better and stronger after the pandemic. On top of that critical funding, Arizona also has a $351 million budget surplus that should be used to help Arizonans. It is imperative that these critical funds reach the people who need it most.
To do that, we need to fund critical social safety net programs in Arizona that Democrats and Arizonans have long supported. Those programs include expanding access to childcare subsidies and food programs, paid family leave, kinship care stipends for people who take in their family members children, increasing unemployment insurance benefits for Arizonans who’ve been pushed out of work due the pandemic, small business grants to local businesses that’ve been forced to close or lay off workers, and rent and mortgage relief for renters and homeowners.
This is only a handful of programs that will make Arizona stronger. Our government’s response has failed to meet this historic challenge and exposed severe flaws in our social safety net. The pandemic has further exposed gender and race-based health disparities in Arizona, and we must work to identify and address these issues. We have the ideas and resources to make a difference. We only need the political will.
Victoria Steele is a Democratic member of the Arizona Senate representing District 9.