July 3, 2024

Arizonans rally for reproductive rights: Record-breaking signatures to secure abortion access on ballot

Arizona for Abortion Access gathers over 823,000 signatures, doubling the required number, to place the right to abortion on the November ballot.

Abortion Petitions in a Truck Arizona for Abortion Access volunteers carry boxes out of a truck at the state capitol on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Phoenix. The boxes contain petitions that would put the right to abortion access on the November ballot
Photo courtesy of Arizona for Abortion Access.

Arizona for Abortion Access submitted 823,685 signatures to place the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. The number is more than double the 383,932 signatures needed to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

“It just really goes to show that people here in Arizona want to take their right back,” campaign manager Cherry Bruce said. “People here in Arizona have just had enough, and they are making their voices heard. They are out spreading the word to their friends and neighbors in every corner of the state, and that's how we were able to collect more than any other ballot initiative in state history.”

The proposed amendment, the Arizona Abortion Access Act, would add the “fundamental right to abortion” to Arizona’s constitution. Different from current state law, if upheld, access would be expanded up until fetal viability. The amendment defines fetal viability as “the point in pregnancy when…there is a significant likelihood of the fetus’s sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.”

County election officials have until Aug. 22 to verify the signatures for it to be on November's ballot.

Right now, abortion access is limited up until 15 weeks gestation, or in cases of medical emergencies. However, the 15-week law does not have exceptions for rape or incest, meaning abortions in those cases must be before the gestational age of the fetus exceeds 15 weeks.

The campaign’s push to gather signatures came after the constitutional right to abortion was overturned in 2022. Months after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, abortion access in Arizona was questioned after then-attorney general Mark Brnovich said an 1864 near-total ban should be the governing law instead of the 15-week gestation law that was passed earlier that year.

In April this year, the state Supreme Court upheld the 1864 law making abortions a felony punishable by prison time for those who assist in performing the procedure. The state legislature then repealed the near-total ban in May.

Bruce says the support she has seen isn’t just from one demographic.

“It's not just Democrats. It's Republicans, Trump supporters that want to make sure that the right is protected, as well as independent voters, young and old, really, all walks of life, are in support of this initiative.”

Abortion Petition Boxes Arizona for Abortion Access volunteers carry boxes containing petitions that would put the right to abortion on the November ballot at the state capitol on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Phoenix.
Photo courtesy of Arizona for Abortion Access.

However, the It Goes Too Far campaign disagrees.

“We don't all agree on if 15 weeks is the right place for the law,” Cindy Dahlgreen, spokesperson for the anti-abortion amendment campaign It Goes Too Far, said. “But the one thing that does bring us together is that an unlimited, unregulated abortion amendment goes too far…Our main focus is to defeat this amendment and to educate Arizona voters about the realities of this vague language and what it will look like in Arizona if it passes.”

Bruce still contends that most Arizonans believe in some access to abortion.

“They do not think that politicians and judges should be the ones deciding for them that they should be allowed to have conversations with their doctors, and that doctors should be able to provide the care that they need. So I would just say that, you know that that is a ridiculous notion, that it goes too far to give people their rights back.”

According to a survey from AP VoteCast, 61% of Arizonans who voted in the 2022 midterm elections said abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Only 6% believed in a total ban.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Crowd rallies for abortion access A crowd rallied together to support Arizona for Abortion Access as the organization submitted more than double the signatures needed to place the right to abortion access on the November ballot on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 in Phoenix.
Photo courtesy of Arizona for Abortion Access.

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