Arizona Gov. Hobbs signs abortion rights petition, reaffirms desire for more access

Nov 29, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 11:57 am

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs wants to see abortion rights enshrined in the state constitution, but took a ceremonial step Tuesday in making sure the issue was on the ballot next year.

Surrounded by bipartisan abortion rights activists and her 21-year-old daughter at a campaign-style event, Hobbs signed a petition that would get abortion rights on the ballot for the November 2024 election.

The petition needs 383,923 signatures by July 3, 2024, to make it on the ballot.

“Reproductive freedom is not a partisan issue. It’s about our individual rights. It’s about our health care”, Hobbs said. “And it’s about women’s ability to participate and thrive in our society and our economy.”

Why does Hobbs want expanded abortion access in Arizona?

Hobbs said she doesn’t believe politicians of any party should dictate reproductive health care decisions for women.

She filed an amicus brief with the Arizona Supreme Court last month telling the story of Morgan Finkelstein, who was forced to travel to California for a procedure that would save her life and the life of one of her unborn twins.

Finkelstein was emotional when she told her story at the governor’s petition signing. She said she and her husband were elated when they found out they were pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl.

They were devastated when told their unborn son had a critical heart defect that caused blood to pump into his lungs. The doctors explained she would need to have what’s called a selective reduction procedure to save her life and the other twin.

While the procedure was technically legal at the time, Finkelstein had to travel to Los Angeles in October 2020 because the one facility in Arizona that could perform the selective reduction would not help her.

“I’m grateful everyday that I was able to, but I should not have had to leave the state for that care,” Finkelstein said.

What’s next for abortion rights in Arizona?

The Arizona Supreme Court will hear arguments on Dec. 12 on whether or not to reinstate the 1864 pre-statehood near total abortion ban. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, then-Attorney General Republican Mark Brnovich determined the pre-statehood abortion ban would be law in Arizona.

There are two conflicting abortion laws on the books in Arizona: the 1864 near total abortion ban and the 15-week ban signed into law by former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in March 2022. An appeals court ruled in October 2022 that the 15-week ban would take precedent over pre-statehood law.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that her office will vigorously argue against reinstating the 1864 law at the state Supreme Court hearing next month.

“Obviously this is a terrible, terrible law,” Mayes said. “There’s not reason it should be reinstated.”

Mayes believes the appeals court got it right when they essentially combined the two conflicting abortion laws on the books, allowing the 15-week ban to take precedent.

However, Mayes said she doesn’t like the ban because it doesn’t allow for exceptions for rape or incest but neither does the pre-statehood near total abortion ban.

Ultimately, Mayes said she would like to see abortion rights protected in the state constitution next year through voter initiative. She said she’s signed the petition to get it on the ballot next year as well.

“I believe Arizonans at the end of the day, next year will vote for a ballot initiative that will affirm the right to abortion access and the right to choose for women in the state,” Mayes said.

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Arizona Gov. Hobbs signs abortion rights petition, reaffirms desire for more access