An abortion rights group filed a long-shot initiative for the Arizona November ballot.

“Women in Arizona, they don’t have two years to wait,” said Shasta McManus, treasurer of Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom, the group that wants to add an amendment to the Arizona Constitution to protect reproductive rights and prohibit any state or political restriction on those seeking abortions or physicians performing abortions.

To appear on the ballot, the initiative needs 356,467 valid signatures by July 7. The group has 50 days to get all the required signatures. If the group cannot get the signatures by the deadline, the amendment cannot appear on Arizona ballots until 2024.

The group released an official statement that detailed its demands.

“Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which entails the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care,” the statement says.

Part of the group’s demands included barring Arizona from restricting an abortion before a fetus is viable. The group defined viability as a qualified professional stating the child can survive outside the womb. Although abortion is permitted at any point “if the health or safety of the individual is at risk.”

The move comes on the heels of the leaked Supreme Court draft published by the German-owned political news outlet, Politico, that would overturn the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. The decision guaranteed the constitutional protection of abortion rights. The final decision may come in June.

Thirteen states have “trigger laws” that would immediately restrict abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Arizona is not one of those states. However, Arizona has a pre-Roe law that would reinstate. This law banned abortions, except when the mother’s life was at risk.

Right now, Arizona law bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. On March 30, Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed Senate Bill (SB) 1164, sponsored by State Senator Nancy Barto (R-AZ). Under the bill, physicians who perform an abortion outside a medical emergency get charged with a class 6 felony and may have their license suspended or revoked.

Ducey defended signing the bill in a letter. “In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life – including preborn life. I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them,” he wrote.

– – –

Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY 2.0.