Governor Who Cut Funding for Sexual Assault Victims Has Son Who Was Charged With Sexual Assault

Illustration for article titled Governor Who Cut Funding for Sexual Assault Victims Has Son Who Was Charged With Sexual Assault

On Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a law that bars state funding from going to any organization that provides abortion services. This means that Planned Parenthood, which doesn't use state money for abortions, will be deprived of funds they would have used to provide all manner of sexual health services, including services used by victims of sexual assault — STD tests, pregnancy tests, and the Morning After Pill, for example. The defunding of Planned Parenthood would be a crappy, callous move on its own, but it seems especially hypocritical coming from Brewer — her son, Ronald, has been a patient at the state mental hospital for the last 20 years after he was found not guilty of kidnap and sexual assault by reason of insanity.

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According to the Arizona Republic in July of 1989, Ronald Brewer allegedly broke into a woman's apartment, slapped her several times, and committed sex acts on her. After his 1990 indictment, his mother claimed that Ronald had "decompensated," which means that although he'd been functioning normally before the attack, his state deteriorated. His lawyers argued that Ronald didn't know, at the time, that what he was doing was wrong, and a judge agreed, committing Ronald indefinitely to the state's hospital, where he still lives (although he's free to leave with staff or with his parents). Just days before Jan Brewer was sworn in as the state's governor in 2009, Ronald's criminal records were sealed. His case is one of only four cases that were sealed in Maricopa County in 2009, out of 40,000 total criminal cases.

Jan Brewer's a staunch Tea Party Republican, which means she's totally in step with her cohorts on pushing xenophobic anti-immigrant legislation (and then she compared the criticism she received for the "show me your papers" law to getting waterboarded), dramatic spending cuts for social programs, union busting, a crusade against Planned Parenthood (and women's access to abortion), and fighting against the Affordable Care Act. But where Brewer falls out of line is her insistance on defending funding for programs that would directly benefit her son and people like him.

Just months into office, Brewer insisted that Republican legislative leaders restore some cuts they had proposed to balance the budget.

Leading that list was nearly $9 million taken from a program to provide mental health services and drug treatment to people who are not poor enough to qualify for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program, but who do not earn enough to be able to afford coverage of their own. That equated to a 25 percent cut in the program.

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Interestingly, Brewer's also pressed to eliminate the category of "not guilty by reason of insanity" from Arizona's legal lexicon, changing the verbiage to "guilty but insane." This would make it difficult for perpetrators like her son to be released from state custody and proclaim that they're "cured."

Jan Brewer is not responsible for her son's conduct, and neither she nor her mentally ill shouldn't be demonized for his struggle with illness. Ronald Brewer was found not guilty and is receiving ongoing treatment. But while Jan Brewer can't be blamed for what allegedly happened in July 1989, she can be blamed for how she's governing the state of Arizona. Given her personal experience, you'd think she'd be hesitant to cut state funding to an organization that provides services to women like the woman whom her son allegedly sexually assaulted.

[Arizona Star]

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DISCUSSION

gingergetthepopcorn
Ginger, get the popcorn!

You know, it always amazes how capable conservatives are of convincing themselves that their experiences are unique and special. Jan Brewer reminds me of the people who are opposed to food stamps and welfare, despite the fact that they relied on government assistance to get back on their feet once upon a time because somehow, their experience of unemployment and personal trauma leading them to need government assistance is completely different from the experiences of everyone else who gets that same assistance.

As demonstrated by her defense of the mental health budget, she's clearly internalized how important access to mental health services are—for both the patient and society—through her son's experience. The fact that she somehow can't extrapolate that to other government services and funding is beyond me. Do she and her ilk really need to experience absolutely every possible shitty thing that can happen to a person before accepting that shitty things happen to people and there should be some kind of safety net to keep them from falling too far? I mean, how is it that she can accept that mental health services are important (probably because of her personal experiences), but she can't also see that other health services are important? Is it really that hard to get from her acceptance through personal experience of the importance of mental health services to accepting that lots of people, for whatever reason, do not have access to health insurance, and therefore things like the ACA and PP are important and worth funding? The lack of empathy always floors me.