Abortion Rights at the Ballot Box

Arizona's elected officials hold the key to defending abortion access. Here are some races to watch this year.

With the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, extremist politicians were given the green light to try to ban abortion in their own states. Arizona is no exception. Potential criminal and civil liability created by conflicting laws has already made accessing abortion more difficult in our state.

The reality is that a majority of Arizonans want abortion to remain legal but it’s clear that many current elected officials do not have our best interests in mind. On the contrary, they continue to  push a harmful anti-abortion agenda that will devastate generations to come if we don’t act now. However, with the 2022 Election just around the corner, Arizona voters will have the opportunity to change the course of history by electing candidates in local, state, and federal races who will defend access to abortion.

Now that we're past the primaries, there are several races in Arizona to watch. Keep reading to learn about some of the offices on the ballot in 2022 and how they impact reproductive rights.

The ACLU of Arizona does not endorse or oppose candidates running for office.

Maricopa County Attorney

Voters in Maricopa County will have the chance to choose a new county attorney during this year's special election. Maricopa County is the largest county in Arizona, the fourth largest county in the United States, and a significant contributor to mass incarceration driven by  the punitive practices of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. 

The next Maricopa County Attorney can protect people seeking or providing abortion by ensuring that no one goes to jail for making a personal, health care decision or helping someone else get the care they need. The ACLU of Arizona’s Smart Justice Campaign sent a questionnaire to candidates Rachel Mitchell and Julie Gunnigle to ask where they ask on important issues, like abortion. Gunnigle pledged to not prosecute pregnant people or providers in abortion-related cases. Mitchell did not respond.

Click here to find out where Maricopa County Attorney candidates stand on reproductive rights and criminal justice reform.

Ninety Seats in the Arizona Legislature 

This year, all thirty state Senate seats and sixty state House seats are up for election. While Arizona’s state lawmakers have spent years chipping away at abortion access, we now have the power to elect candidates that support abortion rights.

State legislators write, sponsor, and pass bills that impact the daily lives and futures of Arizonans, including ones that effect access to reproductive healthcare. Anti-choice lawmakers have held a slim majority for too long, and the 2022 elections offer a critical turning point to elect legislators that will support the needs of our communities rather than hinder them. 

Visit the Citizens Clean Elections Commission website to look up candidates in your district.

Arizona Governor 

Governor Doug Ducey finishes his eight-year term this year and Arizonans now have the chance to elect a governor who understands that abortion is essential healthcare for all Arizonans.  

The Governor’s office sets policy for the state and is often the last line of defense against unconstitutional bills. The Governor has the power to protect our rights by vetoing new abortion bans and other legislation that jeopardizes our communities. In the event that Arizona has an anti-abortion majority in the House and Senate, electing a Governor that supports abortion access is critical to ensure that bills that criminalize abortion do not become law.

Arizona Attorney General

The Attorney General (AG) is the chief legal official in the state and is responsible for issuing legal guidance to state officers, legislators, and county attorneys. The AG also represents the state and state agencies in state and federal court.

The AG plays an important role in defending abortion access through their role in the courts. In some states, Attorneys General are using their position of power to protect reproductive rights. Unfortunately, Arizona’s current Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, is doing the opposite. He asked the courts to lift a permanent block on a total abortion ban that is older that the state itself.

Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide which laws can be enforced in Arizona but we can mobilize now to secure a better future. Electing an Attorney General who will advocate for abortion access – rather than dismantle it – is a step in that direction.

Learn how the candidates running for Attorney General would handle abortion issues.

Other actions you can take to defend abortion access in Arizona. 

If you’re eligible to vote, mailing in a completed ballot or heading to the polls on Election Day is critical. But if you want to do more than vote OR you are unable to vote but still want to get involved in elections, there are many ways to do so. 

You can start with researching candidates and sharing the information you find with friends, family, neighbors, and on social media. This is a midterm election year, which almost always has lower voter turnout than general elections. Simply getting the word out and reminding people to vote can make a big difference. Letting people know which offices are on the ballot and candidates’ positions on reproductive rights in Arizona can help mobilize even more voters.

If any particular race stands out to you, consider volunteering with a candidate that aligns with your values. Canvassing, phone or text banking, and tabling at events are just some of the ways you can help. 

Want to get involved in the Maricopa County Attorney’s race? Join the ACLU of Arizona’s Campaign for Smart Justice.

Abortion rights beyond elections

Until we can elect leaders who will protect our right to decide if, when, and how to start our families, we must do what we can to support each other. Donating to abortion funds and practical support networks makes an immediate impact to help people get care. You can also learn about the importance of digital privacy and share this information with anyone you know seeking abortion care.

This has been a difficult time for many, especially for people who need abortions and the providers who have dedicated their careers to offering this essential care. There is no easy solution to recover the protections that Roe v. Wade provided, but we can fight for a future that is much better than before. Together, we can and will take back our right to abortion and ensure every person can get the care they need.

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