POLITICS | Planned Parenthood and allies collect signatures to make Arizona an abortion-rights state
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Abortion advocates in Arizona have started a ballot initiative campaign to create a right to abortion in the state constitution. It’s part of a new trend to push abortion-permissive measures at the state level following the downfall of Roe v. Wade last year.
Arizona for Abortion Access on Aug. 8 filed the Arizona Abortion Access Act, a proposed amendment to allow abortions up until a baby is able to survive outside the mother’s womb, generally considered to be from 22 to 24 weeks of gestation. The amendment would also permit late-term abortions for the “life or physical or mental health” of the mother. The new committee is sponsored by state chapters of Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and NARAL. Current state law, signed by former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey last year, protects unborn children after 15 weeks’ gestation.
Arizona, a narrowly Republican-majority state, is one of 18 that allow citizens to pass proposals to amend the constitution. Arizona for Abortion Access needs to collect roughly 384,000 signatures from registered voters by July 3, 2024, to get the amendment on the general election ballot. Pro-abortion groups previously tried to add an abortion initiative to the midterms ballot in 2022 but failed to acquire enough signatures by the deadline.
A similar ballot initiative is underway in Ohio—that election is slated for Nov. 7. An early August special election there rejected a proposal that would have made citizen-initiated constitutional amendments more difficult to pass.
Redistricting dispute hits Music City
A lawsuit filed Aug. 9 accuses Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and top state election officials of “racial gerrymandering.” The state conference of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Tennessee are among the plaintiffs saying the congressional maps illegally dilute minority votes.
Based on the last census, Tennessee redrew maps in 2022 and divided Nashville into three districts that stretched beyond the city into rural counties. Although Nashville and the broader Davidson County lean Democratic, each of the districts elected Republicans in the 2022 elections.
Former U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville chose not to run for reelection in 2022, citing the new districts as a factor in his decision. The Democratic lawmaker said the lines would have made it impossible for him to win. Rep. Andy Ogles, a Republican, ultimately won the seat by 13 points.
Republicans have argued the new maps simply reflect shifting populations in the state. —C.L.
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