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Governor Katie Hobbs Signs Petition for 2024 Abortion Ballot Measure in Arizona

PHOENIX – Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs was joined by other political leaders on the morning of Nov. 28 to try and get an abortion measure on the ballot in November 2024.

According to an Associated Press article published in early November, abortion access advocates in Arizona want to amend the state’s constitution in order to protect access to abortion until the fetus is viable, generally considered to be around 24 weeks gestational age or later, to protect the life or physical or mental health of the woman.

“In Arizona, we are just one bad court decision away from an 1864 abortion ban that carries prison time for doctors, and provides no exception for rape or incest,” said Gov. Hobbs, during the event. “That bad court decision could come any day now.”

Gov. Hobbs’ support of the endeavor perhaps comes as no surprise, as the governor has been outspoken about her efforts to give women the freedom to make their own decisions about abortion. Efforts in Arizona to put abortion on the ballot come as abortion rights groups around the U.S. are endeavoring to put the issue in front of voters in nine states next year.

According to the AP, supporters of the abortion ballot measure in Arizona have until July 3, 2024 to collect the nearly 384,000 valid signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot.

What is the current status of abortion in Arizona?

According to Planned Parenthood, abortion is legal up to 15 weeks of pregnancy in Arizona.

“State law requires patients undergo an initial visit consisting of pregnancy confirmation with ultrasound and physician counseling, then wait 24 hours before an abortion procedure,” read a portion of Planned Parenthood’s website. Abortion for reasons of “fetal race, sex or genetic abnormality” is not allowed.

For those who are over 15 weeks pregnant, Planned Parenthood officials say they are legally allowed to travel out of state to seek abortion services. Meanwhile, for those under 18, a parent or legal guardian must give them permission before they get an abortion.

The current restrictions came after a period of legal uncertainty following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2022 that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. Initially, Mark Brnovich, who was Arizona’s Attorney General at the time, tweeted that his office had made a conclusion that “the Arizona Legislature has made its intentions clear regarding abortion laws,” and that ARS 13-3603, which refers to a provision in Arizona state law that effectively bans a person from carrying out an abortion unless it is necessary to save the woman’s life, is back in effect, and that a law that provides for the current 15-week abortion limit will not supersede the old law.

In November 2022, however, an Arizona court ruled that abortion doctors cannot be prosecuted under ARS 13-3603, which reportedly dates back to a time when Arizona was a U.S. Territory, and not a state.

In addition, an executive order signed by Gov. Hobbs in June 2023 gave the state’s Attorney General all duties “with regard to any criminal prosecution of a medical provider or other entity or individual that is pending or brought in the future by the county attorney of any county in this State for violation of any State law restricting or prohibiting abortion care including, without limitation, ARS 13-3603 and provisions in Title 36, Chapter 23,” to the extent permissible under Arizona law.

According to an AP article published in October, the state’s Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments over the abortion ban mentioned above. The argument is scheduled for Dec. 12.

Is abortion still legal in the U.S. after Roe v. Wade was overturned?

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights’ website, 14 states have banned abortion in the U.S. after Roe v. Wade was overturned. States surrounding Arizona have different rules regarding abortion, with abortion rights protected in California, Nevada, and Colorado by a mixture of approved ballot measures, statutory laws, constitutional laws, and court rulings.

Utah, according to the website, has an 18-week abortion ban, while a question remains in New Mexico on whether the state’s Equal Rights Amendment provision in its constitution protects the right to abortion. Currently, the state has a ban on an abortion procedure known to some as “partial birth abortions.”

Source: Fox10 Phoenix