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Activists hope ballot initiative will enshrine abortion access into Arizona law

The future of abortion is unclear in Arizona after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. But activists hope to get an initiative on the ballot this year to make abortion access part of state law. 

The initiative  would amend Arizona’s constitution to codify the right to reproductive freedom and make it illegal for the state to restrict or interfere with that right. 

Amy Fitch-Heacock is with Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom — the group behind the initiative. 

“It would take precedence and it would nullify any of the other existing bans and again, this would be completely in the hands of the voters. So we get to decide if this is what we want to do,” she said.

A law forged in 1901, before Arizona was a state, makes all abortions illegal except those needed to save the mother’s life. A new law bans abortions after 15 weeks and goes into effect in September. Abortion care providers suspended operations this week amid legal uncertainty.

Tucson was the only location in southern Arizona to receive abortion care. Earlier this month, the Tucson City Council and Mayor Regina Romero also unanimously passed a resolution supporting abortion rights and directing Tucson Police Department not to arrest anyone performing an abortion.

But Fitch-Heacock says those efforts could be challenged by Arizona legislators and other elected officials. 

“We expect that they would try to nullify anything we try to do at the local level, and that’s why really a statewide initiative like this is so important,” she said. “If Arizonans want change, they have to create change at the ballot box as well.”

She said the new measure would also extend the right to choose contraceptives and postpartum care. It needs 356,467 signatures by July 7 to get on the November ballot.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify that the measure is a ballot initiative.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.