KGUN 9NewsStatewide News


What does Arizona's proposed abortion amendment say?

Amendment expected to be on ballot November 2024
Abortion-Things to Know
Posted at 4:46 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 19:46:37-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The group Arizona for Abortion Access is expected to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November. Arizona law requires 383,923 verified signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The group has until Wednesday, July 3 to submit signatures for verification, but already said it has collected 506,892.

KGUN 9 spoke with Professor Chad Westerland, an expert on constitutional law from Arizona State University, to find out what the ballot initiative would do if passed. He told KGUN 9 the bill will essentially return abortion access to the status quo before Dobbs v. Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade. That means abortion for any reason would be legal up until fetal viability — generally between 22 and 24 weeks. After that, the amendment does not include any language that would prohibit lawmakers from regulating abortion — or even outright banning it after fetal viability.

However, Westerland says new regulations will likely face a stricter standard.

"It's a different legal standard," Westerland said, "So the legal standard has been whether or not the regulation poses an undue burden on the access to an abortion pre-viability."

For example, Pennsylvania required a woman to notify her husband, or her parents if she was a minor. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the spousal notification in Planned Parenthood v. Casey , calling it an undue burden because it increased the risk of domestic abuse. But, the high court upheld the requirement to notify parents 24 hours before an operation.

"The proposed amendment requires a compelling interest with least restrictive means," Westerland said, "It's harder for the regulation to survive under the compelling interest least restrictive means than the undue burden... They just have to have a better reason and more proof as to why that restriction would need to be there."

Westerland said this amendment will likely face legal battles, from signature challenges to whether the amendment conflicts with other constitutional rights.
That argument becomes especially important for those who believe life begins at conception, and should be protected under the 14th Amendment.

Right now, abortion is legal in Arizona up to 15 weeks. After that, it is only legal to save the life of a mother. The near-total ban becomes enforceable around June, but Governor Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes said they will not prosecute any abortion cases, nor will they let county attorneys prosecute any.

Jeff Rosenfield joined KGUN 9 in July of 2022. He has a background in writing, as well as photography and other visual mediums. He graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the Arizona State University in May of 2022.