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Effort to enshrine abortion rights in Arizona’s constitution comes up short

Abortion protest
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File
Thousands of protesters march around the Arizona Capitol in protest after the Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision Friday, June 24, 2022, in Phoenix. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has legal advocates, prosecutors and residents of red states facing a legal morass created by decades of often conflicting anti-abortion legislation. In Arizona, Republicans are fighting among themselves over whether a 121-year-old anti-abortion law that precedes statehood should be enforced over a 2022 version.

Advocates for reproductive rights in Arizona say they’ve come up short in their attempt to enshrine abortion access in the state constitution. They’ll now focus on regrouping for the 2024 election.

Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom says it collected more than 175,000 signatures statewide in the last two months before Thursday’s deadline. They’d hoped to gather enough to put the measure to voters in November. More than 356,000 valid signatures are required to put proposed constitutional amendments on Arizona’s ballot.

The effort to constitutionally protect abortion rights in the state began after a draft U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade was leaked in early May. The official opinion was released last month.

Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom says it’ll now focus on placing an initiative on the ballot for the 2024 presidential election.

A similar effort to protect abortion rights in Michigan’s constitution began two years ago and has qualified for that state’s November’s ballot with about 800,000 signatures.

The procedure has been halted in Arizona as confusion persists about whether a pre-1901 law that bans all abortions is now enforceable following the Supreme Court’s ruling. Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich recently said that law, dating from the state’s days as a territory, is now valid.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.