Arizona abortion rights advocates submit twice as many signatures as needed for ballot initiative

Jul 3, 2024, 7:46 AM | Updated: Jul 8, 2024, 6:54 am

PHOENIX – Arizona Abortion Access Act supporters submitted more than double the amount of signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot Wednesday.

A group called Arizona for Abortion Access launched its petition campaign for the ballot initiative in September 2023.

The Arizona Abortion Access Act, if passed, would essentially restore abortion rights in the state to the standard that existed nationwide for nearly 50 years until the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

Wednesday was the deadline for submitting enough signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office to get a voter initiative on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Arizona for Abortion Access announced in April it already had gathered 500,000 signatures, well above the 383,923 valid signatures required to qualify for the ballot. But the collection campaign didn’t end there.

The group said it wound up with 823,685 signatures, providing an ample cushion in case a significant number end up being invalid. Aug. 22 is the deadline for county recorders to verify petition signatures, according to election officials.

“We will be turning in the most signatures ever collected by a citizen-led effort here in the state of Arizona,” Dawn Penich, Arizona for Abortion Access communications director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News before the petitions were delivered. “And that is just a testament to how much support there is for reproductive freedom, for access to abortion care when needed, among Arizona voters.”

Later in the morning, the group wheeled carts loaded with 300 boxes full of petitions into the Secretary of State’s Office at the Arizona Capitol complex in downtown Phoenix.

Abortion on ballot in multiple states this year

Activists in two other states — Nebraska and Arkansas — also are planning to submit signatures this week for ballot measures about abortion.

If successful, those states and Arizona will join five others where the issue is set to go before voters this year: Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and South Dakota.

Arizona is a swing state in this year’s election, and the abortion issue is a key part of Democratic campaigns. Opponents of the amendment measure say it goes too far and could lead to unlimited and unregulated abortions in Arizona.

How would abortion rights measure change Arizona law?

Arizona law currently prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with an exception for medical emergencies later in the term. There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. A doctor or anybody who assists in an illegal abortion could face 2-5 years in prison, but patients can’t be prosecuted.

The Arizona Abortion Access Act would remove the 15-week limit and guarantee abortion rights until a fetus could survive outside the womb, typically around 24 weeks of pregnancy. It also would allow later abortions to save the mother’s life or to protect her physical or mental health.

Penich said supporters of the Arizona abortion rights measure want to put reproductive health care in the hands of patients and doctors, not the government.

“At the end of the day, what we would like to do is get these kind of decisions away from politicians and away from the courts by enshrining this freedom in the Arizona Constitution,” she said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Colton Krolak and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona abortion rights advocates submit twice as many signatures as needed for ballot initiative