Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
State Capitol News

Governor Brewer Talks About Morality and This Year's Legislative Session

Gage Skidmore
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

This year's legislative session was heavy on issues related to issues of morality and religion.

Many of the issues that lawmakers take up have some moral implication, whether it relates to drug laws, criminal penalties or even who gets to practice what business. But this year lawmakers waded right in, tackling the hot-button issues of abortion, vouchers for private and parochial school tuition, religious freedom in professions and even allowing the study of the Bible in public schools, at least as an academic exercise. The governor said there's nothing wrong with lawmakers voting their morals.

"I don't think you ever leave your morals behind," she said. "I mean, that is part of who you are. It's part of how you were raised, part of how you engage with the world, every day making those decisions you believe that are right and wrong. And those are a basic fundamental part of your being and your thinking process."

Brewer acknowledged that her personal beliefs fit in to her decision to sign two measures aimed squarely at Planned Parenthood. One says that federal family planning dollars that are funneled through the state cannot be given to any organization which also performs abortions, even if the funds are not used for that. The other is designed so that donations made to Planned Parenthood do not qualify for the Working Poor Tax Credit. 

Brewer said, "I do not support the goals of Planned Parenthood because I believe in life. They believe in choice. So let's just cut right through the fat and tell it like it is. I don't support them. It's philosophically not agreeable with me."

The governor said there is nothing wrong with the government imposing its views on others.

"Well, we've got government officials, we have elected officials," she said.  "And we all have a different philosophy. And that's why we have disagreements. I happen to choose life. And they happen to choose choice."

On a much broader scale, lawmakers also approved legislation to make abortions illegal after 20 weeks. That is at least as restrictive as any law in the country. In fact, it may be more so: It measures the period of gestation from the last menstrual cycle which actually could be two weeks before someone is pregnant. But the governor is unapologetic about signing that legislation, too.

"I guess it's imposing what I believe in," she said.

The governor is on the record as wanting to outlaw all abortions except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. That, she acknowledged, is not possible what with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade. But she said government is entitled to make reasonable restrictions on the practice, saying that 20-week limit fits her definition of what is reasonable. More to the point, she said the government does have rights to impose limits into an area some might consider an intrusion into their personal rights.

"It's no different than when we do any other kinds of legislation or we set any other kinds of standards," she said. "It's what I believe in versus maybe what somebody else believes in. This is the arena in which this is all debated. And then we choose sides and there are winners and there are losers."

And what of the rights of the minority?

"Well, the majority wins," she said.

No matter what?

"As far as I know. Every time I've ever seen the board down there the majority wins," she said.

And what of those in the minority who believe their rights are being trampled?

"I guess then they take it to court," the governor said.