Women protest for abortion rights in Arizona

Abortion rights protesters chant during a pro-choice rally at the Tucson Federal Courthouse in Arizona on Monday, July 4, 2022.

(Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

Arizona Coalition Launches Push to Codify Abortion Rights in State Constitution

"The majority of Arizonans agree: People who can become pregnant deserve the freedom to decide for themselves when to become a parent or grow their families," said one state lawmaker. "Let's do this, Arizona."

Following the success of pro-abortion rights ballot initiatives in several states last year, organizers from across the nation are zeroing in on Arizona as the next state where the question of whether the right to abortion care should be codified should be posed directly to voters.

Groups including NARAL Arizona, the ACLU of Arizona, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA) on Tuesdayfiled proposed language for a new amendment to the state constitution which, if passed in the 2024 election, would guarantee the right to abortion care up until about 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy—the point of fetal viability.

Pregnant people whose lives or health would be put at risk by continuing a pregnancy would also be guaranteed the right to abortion care after the 24-week point.

The groups are among those forming a new political action committee called Arizona for Abortion Access, more than a year after the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, paving the way for abortion bans in more than 20 states and restrictions in at least six, including Arizona.

Former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law months before Roe was overturned that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Since taking office in January, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has made protecting abortion access a centerpiece of her legislative agenda, signing an executive order in June to prevent the state from prosecuting people for obtaining an abortion or assisting someone in getting care. She has also expressed support for a voter-approved constitutional amendment affirming that Arizonans have a right to abortion care.

After filing the proposed amendment on Tuesday, Arizona for Abortion Access will have about 11 months—until July 3, 2024—to gather the required 383,923 signatures from residents in order to place the question on next year's ballot.

Chris Love, a senior adviser to PPAA, toldThe Washington Post that the coalition plans to get at least half a million signatures.

A 2022 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 62% of Arizonans believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

The coalition launched its initiative as voters in Ohio went to the polls in a special election that could be a deciding factor in whether the state's own proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing reproductive freedom will pass in November.

In Tuesday's special election in Ohio, voters are being asked whether the threshold for passing a new constitutional amendment should be raised from a simple majority to 60% of voters. Just under 58% of Ohio residents support the proposed constitutional amendment being put to voters in November, meaning the rule being proposed on Tuesday's ballots could harm the chances of passing the abortion rights measure.

Republicans in the Arizona state Senate have also passed a constitutional amendment requiring a 60% supermajority for future amendments. If passed by the state House, the proposal could appear on ballots in 2024.

Arizona "has been ground zero of MAGA attacks on our rights and our democracy," said the national progressive advocacy group Indivisible, which pledged to mobilize its local chapters across the state to help gather signatures supporting Arizona for Abortion Access' efforts.

Last year following the overturning of Roe, voters in states including Kansas and Kentucky rejected proposed constitutional amendments that aimed to restrict abortion care, and voters in California, Vermont, and Michigan approved amendments to affirm the right to abortion.

Advocates in Arizona are predicting voters will do the same next year.

"The majority of Arizonans agree: People who can become pregnant deserve the freedom to decide for themselves when to become a parent or grow their families," said state Rep. Analise Ortiz (D-24). "Let's do this, Arizona."

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