By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) – Abortion rights advocates in Arizona on Tuesday launched a campaign to add abortion protections to the state constitution in next year’s election, in a bid to invalidate the state’s current 15-week ban.
A new coalition, Arizona for Abortion Access, said it had filed proposed language on Tuesday for a ballot measure to go before voters in November 2024 with the Arizona secretary of state’s office. The political action committee includes the Arizona chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, among others.
The proposed referendum joins similar efforts underway elsewhere, as abortion rights advocates seek to appeal directly to voters in states where Republican lawmakers have sought to restrict or ban abortion access in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling eliminating a nationwide right.
Voters in Ohio on Tuesday were deciding whether to make it more difficult to amend the state constitution, a Republican-backed measure aimed squarely at stymieing a November referendum that would enshrine abortion protections in the state constitution.
Last year, voters in conservative states Kansas and Kentucky rejected measures that would have declared their state constitutions do not protect abortion rights.
Arizona, once a reliably Republican state, has become a crucial swing state in recent election cycles. Democratic President Joe Biden narrowly carried the state in 2020 over Republican Donald Trump.
Governor Katie Hobbs, who last year became the first Democrat to win the governorship in 16 years, has vowed to support a referendum on abortion.
The ballot measure could help drive Democratic turnout next year, when Arizona is likely to be another key state in the presidential election. The issue was widely seen as a political liability for Republicans in last year’s midterm elections.
The coalition will need to gather more than 380,000 signatures from registered voters in order to qualify the referendum for the 2024 ballot, according to the secretary of state’s office.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bernadette Baum)