Proposed Arizona ballot initiative to ensure abortion rights running out of time

Jun 30, 2022, 2:00 PM | Updated: 9:53 pm
Protesters shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court...

Protesters shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision Friday, June 24, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – Proponents of a ballot initiative to amend Arizona’s constitution to guarantee abortion rights have a week left to gather enough signatures to put the issue before voters this year.

Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom has until July 7 to turn in 356,467 valid signatures. If the group comes up short, the proposed amendment would have to wait until 2024 for its next chance to make the ballot, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said.

“The threshold is extremely high,” Hobbs told told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a ruling that gave states authority over abortion laws. “I’m not sure if they’re going to make that deadline, and that would be the last opportunity to have it on this November’s ballot.”

In Arizona, most abortions will likely be illegal if the initiative effort fails.

Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom has a searchable map and list of locations across the state where supporters can sign petitions or pick them up to help gather signatures.

The Tucson-based group filed the proposed amendment with Hobbs’ office, which oversees voter initiatives, on May 16. That was before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week but after a leaked draft opinion tipped off the high court’s intention.

The proposed amendment would give individuals the right to make decisions on “all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management and infertility care.”

With Roe v. Wade no longer in effect, Arizona apparently will be governed by a pre-statehood law that bans all abortions except to save the mother’s life unless it’s changed by state lawmakers or a voter initiative. Mothers aren’t be subject to punishment under the law, but doctors performing abortions could be sentenced to 2-5 years in prison.

The courts could also have a say in the matter if there are legal challenges to the ban.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Wednesday his office will file a request to lift an injunction on ARS 13-3603, the statue that includes the territorial-era abortion ban.

“It’s important to note that the attorney general offering this opinion certainly carries a lot of weight, but that does not make it the law,” Phoenix attorney Barry Markson told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “There will likely be court hearings and the courts will decide.”

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Proposed Arizona ballot initiative to ensure abortion rights running out of time