Womenz Magazine

“Most Signatures Ever Submitted” Arizona and Nebraska Advance Abortion Rights Measures

Ballot measures in Arizona and Nebraska ensuring abortion
Photo by AP

On Wednesday, organizers in Arizona and Nebraska announced that they have collected far more signatures than required to get ballot measures on abortion rights before voters in November’s election, via Tha Guardian.

In Arizona, organizers say they submitted 823,685 signatures, significantly exceeding the 383,923 required from registered voters. County election officials have until August 22 to verify the validity of these signatures and report their findings to the Arizona secretary of state’s office. Dawn Penich, spokesperson for Arizona for Abortion Access, highlighted the magnitude of their achievement, stating, “That was our goal from the get-go. We started collecting signatures in September and October 2023 and saw how passionate people are about this issue.” She noted it was the most signatures ever submitted for a citizens’ initiative in state history.

Arizona currently enforces a 15-week abortion ban. The proposed amendment would extend the period to around 24 weeks, when a fetus could survive outside the womb, with exceptions to save the mother’s life or protect her physical or mental health. This amendment aims to restrict the state from adopting or enforcing laws that would prohibit access to abortion.

Opponents argue that the proposal goes too far, potentially leading to unregulated abortions. However, supporters believe that enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution is essential to protect these rights from being easily overturned by court decisions or legislative actions. Adrian Fontes, Arizona’s Secretary of State, emphasized the importance of security, stating, “We don’t talk about specific threats, but we have been operating under some serious threat profiles — generally speaking — for the last several weeks. In an abundance of caution, we just wanted to make sure that the voters’ signatures are safe.”

Nebraska could see two competing ballot questions: one to add a right to abortion to the state constitution and another to solidify Nebraska’s current ban on most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Officials with Protect Our Rights in Nebraska reported submitting 207,000 signatures, while organizers of SBA Pro-Life America’s petition effort said they gathered more than 205,000 signatures. The state requires over 123,000 valid signatures, representing 10 percent of registered voters, to qualify for the ballot. These signatures must come from various counties across the largely rural state, told AP News.

In other states, the issue of abortion rights is also gaining traction. Activists in Arkansas are pushing to meet Friday’s deadline to get their measure on the ballot, while voters in Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and South Dakota are set to decide on similar measures this year. New York also has a proposal that advocates believe would safeguard abortion access.

These efforts follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has intensified the focus on abortion rights across the country. As Democrats make abortion rights a central message for this year’s elections, the results in Arizona and Nebraska will be closely watched as indicators of the broader national sentiment on this pivotal issue.

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