A vote for Trump is a vote for a national abortion ban, Whitmer says on AZ trip •

In a small coffee shop in the heart of downtown Phoenix on Wednesday, flanked by two concrete pillars papered over with posters vowing support for President Joe Biden’s reelection, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a dire warning against allowing former President Donald Trump to recapture the White House.

“If we hand Donald Trump a second term, all of our progress in Michigan, all of the work that you’re doing here in Arizona, is at risk,” she said. “A national abortion ban will wipe out all of those strides.”

Whitmer, a Democrat and co-chair of Biden’s reelection campaign, urged voters to reject Trump, who she said would void statewide efforts to protect abortion access. While Trump has dodged questions about his stance on abortion restrictions but has indicated he would support a 15-week nationwide ban, his allies have signaled interest in using the Comstock Act, a 151-year-old federal law that prohibits the mailing of abortifacients, as a way to eliminate the procedure across the country.

Whitmer and Nessel say abortion pill case is part of continued attacks on reproductive rights

Under such a national ban, movements to safeguard abortion access via ballot measures like the one that succeeded in Michigan in 2022 and the Arizona Abortion Access Act that’s aiming for the November ballot this year would be rendered moot. The Arizona ballot initiative, which just this week announced it has exceeded its signature gathering requirement, would amend the state constitution to make obtaining an abortion a right, and would nullify the state’s current 15-week ban in favor of protecting access up to 24 weeks — and beyond, if the patient’s doctor deems it necessary.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a vocal abortion advocate, added that the November election is critical to fend off attacks on reproductive rights from both the state and national levels.

“The people of Arizona are going to speak loud and clear in November, and they are going to pass that ballot initiative to enshrine reproductive rights in the constitution. We’re going to enshrine it in the constitution so that those extremist Republicans in the legislature can’t ever take it away from us,” she said. “But we also have to reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, to make sure that the extremists in Congress don’t try to impose a national ban.”

Republicans in both the state legislature and in Congress have advanced greater restrictions on abortion, proposing laws that would ascribe rights to fetuses and effectively ban abortion. In Arizona, Republicans have introduced measures to allow pregnant women to drive in the HOV lane or strengthen penalties for crimes committed against pregnant victims.

And a push from Arizona Democrats to repeal a near-total ban from 1864 punishing doctors with 2 to 5 years in prison that is currently being mulled over by the Arizona Supreme Court failed to move forward. Republicans in the state legislature refused to even hear the proposal.

In Congress, meanwhile, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have repeatedly sought to advance a national fetal personhood law.

Sen. Eva Burch, D-Mesa, who last month shared the news of her planned abortion on the floor of the Arizona Senate to highlight the difficulties women must contend with when seeking reproductive health care, called on Arizonans to award Democrats a legislative majority.

“Democrats have just a one-seat deficit in the House and the Senate, and flipping just two seats in each chamber could fundamentally change the outlook for millions of Arizonans,” she said.

The Democratic Party has pinned its hopes on abortion rights as a motivating issue in the 2024 election cycle that could deliver big wins for pro-choice candidates. In Kansas, a legislatively referred ballot measure seeking to give lawmakers the ability to end abortion protections in the state prompted record voter turnout, and the initiative was resoundingly rejected. In Virginia, abortion wasn’t on the ballot in 2023, but the topic was still front and center with an anti-abortion Republican governor at the helm, and voters reacted by delivering the state legislature to Democrats.

For Dr. Atsuko Koyama, the outcome of the 2024 election cycle can mean the difference between life and death for many women facing critical pregnancy complications. The Phoenix-area abortion provider denounced anti-abortion laws that criminalize doctors for providing emergency care, saying that putting doctors at risk of prosecution only serves to jeopardize the critical health care interventions that women need.

Both of Arizona’s abortion bans carry consequences for providers who violate them: the 1864 near-total ban threatens prison time while the 15-week gestational ban punishes doctors with a class 6 felony.

“My colleagues are having to determine if a patient is close enough to death as determined by lawyers, legislators, and hospital administrators — not doctors — to decide if they can provide the reproductive health care interventions (they provided) before the overturn of Roe,” she said.

The consequences of the upcoming election stretch far beyond 2024, Koyama added. Its repercussions have the potential to impact generations of women seeking health care for years to come.

“It breaks my heart to know that my daughter has fewer rights than I did at her age, that she’s living in a time when providers can be held criminally liable for providing essential health care and patients can’t get the life-saving care they need and want,” she lamented. “The stakes are so high this November.”

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: [email protected]. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

authored by Gloria Rebecca Gomez
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