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Hundreds of Arizona Doctors Urge Voters to Back Abortion Rights Amendment

"Every person should be able to make their own decisions" regarding abortion, the doctors wrote.

Members of Arizona for Abortion Access, the ballot initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the Arizona State Constitution, hold a press conference and protest condemning Arizona House Republicans and the 1864 abortion ban during a recess from a legislative session at the Arizona House of Representatives on April 17, 2024, in Phoenix, Arizona.

A letter signed by around 550 Arizona doctors and healthcare providers urges residents of the state to support the passage of a November ballot initiative to enshrine expansive abortion rights in the state.

The Arizona state Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that an 1864 anti-abortion statute, which banned the procedure in nearly all circumstances, was indeed enforceable due to the fact that no existing statutory law recognizes an explicit right to have an abortion following the upending of federal recognition granted under Roe v. Wade. After several failed attempts, the state legislature, led primarily by Democrats and a few Republicans who joined them, successfully overturned that law, allowing some limited access to the procedure.

But the new law doesn’t go far enough, abortion advocates say, and can be easily overturned by lawmakers in the future, thus necessitating the enacting of a constitutional amendment that guarantees abortion rights.

Hundreds of doctors have signed onto an open letter backing a current campaign to get such an amendment on the November ballot.

“As health care professionals across Arizona, we support the Arizona Abortion Access Act, the amendment to restore reproductive freedoms in the state and put families back in charge of medical decisions,” the letter from the healthcare providers states. “This amendment simply restores the rights Arizonans had for the past 50 years, before Roe v. Wade was overturned. That means Arizonans will again have the freedom to make their own decisions about pregnancy and abortion, without politicians interfering.”

The letter from doctors and healthcare providers also noted that Republican politicians are still “working to pass a total abortion ban” in the state. The amendment would block those efforts, ensuring that access to abortion would remain unimpeded, once passed.

The letter-writers went on to say:

No matter how one personally feels about abortion, every person should be able to make their own decisions with their doctor and those they love and trust. The Arizona Abortion Access Act guarantees personal decisions regarding a patient’s reproductive health will be left to the patient, their family, and their doctor, not politicians.

Some of the doctors who signed the letter also appeared at a pro-amendment rally in front of the Arizona Capitol building earlier this week.

“The Arizona Abortion Access Act puts health care decisions where they belong, with patients, their families and their health care providers,” reiterated Candace Lew, a Phoenix-area OB-GYN with four decades of experience.

One doctor, Andrew Carroll, shared a personal experience at the rally that he and his spouse had experienced to stress the need for the amendment.

“My wife and I suffered a miscarriage with our second pregnancy. She was severely hemorrhaging and went suddenly unconscious in the emergency room due to rapid blood loss. She had to have an emergency D&C [dilation and curettage] in order to save her life,” Carroll recounted.

Had there been any delay to that procedure — which several states with extreme abortion restrictions and bans equate to a type of abortion service — it could have risked his wife’s life, Carroll added.

The proposed amendment would establish a fundamental right to abortion in the state that lawmakers couldn’t regulate up to the point of fetal viability, generally regarded as around 22-25 weeks of pregnancy. After that point, some regulations could apply, but access to the procedure would still be allowed to protect the life and health of a pregnant person.

The signature drive for the Arizona Abortion Access Act is set to wrap up this weekend, as organizers are planning to meet in Phoenix this Saturday before formally submitting the signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

To successfully appear on the November ballot, signatures from 15 percent of qualified voters in the state must be collected — that amounts to 383,923 valid signatures needed. The technical deadline to turn signatures in is July 3, but by turning them in early, organizers can better respond to any challenges made to their petitions.

Organizers believe they have more than enough signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. In April, they had reported already gathering more than half a million names, and as of this week, they believe they have more than 800,000 signatures ready to be validated by the Secretary of State.

The amendment appears poised for passage, too, when voters in the state go to the polls in the fall. According to a CBS/YouGov poll conducted in May, 65 percent of voters in the state are supportive of the abortion rights amendment, with only 21 percent opposed to it. Per state law, the amendment only needs majority vote support to become part of the constitution.

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