On the agenda was gathering signatures to allow voters to enshrine the right to abortion in Arizona’s constitution. The Arizona Abortion Access Act would “establish a fundamental right” for Arizonans to get an abortion any time before viability, which is when a fetus can survive outside of the womb, typically after 23 or 24 weeks of gestation. After the fetus reaches viability, the amendment would prevent the state from creating or enforcing laws that interfere with abortions that are necessary for the pregnant person’s health.
The coffee shop, which hosted a training session for signature-gathering volunteers two days earlier, wants to become a hub to support the ballot initiative.
“In these challenging times, safeguarding the right to abortion in our state is paramount, and this upcoming ballot initiative provides an empowering opportunity for Arizonans to express their views on this crucial issue,” said Gabe Hagen, co-owner of Brick Road Coffee.
It will take about 384,000 valid signatures from registered Arizona voters for the initiative to make the ballot. So organizers said they will need 500,000 total signatures to factor in inevitable invalid signatures.
Molly Gutterud, marketing and communications senior director at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, told Phoenix New Times that petitioners from five organizations have collectively gathered more than 250,000 signatures since the effort began on Sept. 21.
“We’ve still got six months ahead of us to be able to get to where we want to go, but we’re really happy with that start,” Gutterud told New Times.
While Gutterud is pleased with the initial effort, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and organizers from five partner organizations aim to send a message of solidarity by collecting 800,000 total signatures, which is double the minimum number of valid signatures.
ACLU of Arizona, Affirm Sexual and Reproductive Health, Arizona List, Healthcare Rising Arizona and NARAL Arizona are among the organizations spearheading the initiative.
The groups have until July 3 to file signatures with the Arizona Secretary of State. If the proposal qualifies for the ballot, it will go before voters in November.
Post-Roe ballot initiativesIn 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years established that the U.S. Constitution generally protected a person’s right to have an abortion. In the aftermath of that decision, efforts to both protect abortion rights and obliterate them have taken place across the country.
In conservative Kansas, a measure declaring the state’s constitution doesn’t protect abortion was soundly rejected by voters. In Ohio, a state easily won by Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, voters made it a state constitutional right in November 2023 to "make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.”
Arizona is one of nine states in which organizers are trying to put a measure on the 2024 ballot to permanently protect the right to abortion.
The Arizona Supreme Court is currently considering which of two laws has supremacy: a near-total ban that first became law in 1864 when Arizona was still a territory or a 2022 law banning abortions after 15 weeks of gestation.