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Ballot initiative could change Arizona’s abortion ruling if passed

Posted at 11:04 PM, Apr 09, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — Susie Salmon is a clinical law professor at the University of Arizona and is also the director of legal writing there.

She supervised a group of law students who filed an amicus brief for the case, which is essentially information for the case from an outside party not tied to the case and she represented Planned Parenthood.

Although KGUN9 did not ask her opinion on the case, we did ask about what happens next.

Right now the Arizona Abortion Accesses Act is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow abortion until a medical professional says the fetus would survive on its own. There are however some exceptions, such as to save the life of the mother.

The Secretary of State’s office told KGUN9 they need about 383 thousand signatures, but have not turned them in yet as of Tuesday. The office said they need to get it in by July 3 to make it on the November ballot.

Arizona for Abortion Access said they have over 500 thousand signatures as of last week.

If there was an amendment to the Arizona constitution, Salmon said Tuesday’s ruling would be on the books but would not be enforceable.

"When Arizona became a state, it had this existing body of law that it then recodified,” Salmon said.

She said that’s why Arizona can still have a law from before it was a state.

"Arizona Supreme Court has the power to interpret state law and that's what they did,” she said.

According to Salmon, the only way to overturn the ruling would be to amend the constitution for a right to abortion

“To recognize a constitutional right under Arizona law to abortion, in which case then that would supersede because there would be a constitutional right under Arizona law,” she said.

If the proposed amendment were to be passed, Salmon said the doctor would have experts testifying that it was medically necessary to save the life of the woman having an abortion. She said the state or the county prosecutor could also bring in an expert that said it was not.

She said it’s unclear how saving the life of the mother will be interpreted. Under the territorial law, if a woman causes an abortion, Salmon said she could be in legal trouble.

She said with the election coming up, Tuesday’s ruling could sway voters.

“It could motivate pro-choice voters to turn out,” she said.