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Top congressional Democrat calls for Arizona legislative session to wrap up

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(The Center Square) – The likely vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment that would make it a right to have an abortion in Arizona has garnered national attention, including from a top congressional Democrat.

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, who visited Arizona on Thursday and held a brief roundtable with Congressman Greg Stanton, The Center Square reported.

The Massachusetts Democrat spoke with The Center Square on Thursday following the discussion, and she addressed the fact that there could be some key voters who are undecided on the issue. Arizona is considered one of the most competitive states in 2024, compared with Clark’s home state, which is typically regarded as left-leaning.

“This is about health care access and if you think that this won’t affect you, you should look again, because we cannot take health care away from one part of our communities and not have it affect everyone,” she said. “And we want everyone in Arizona to be able to access quality, affordable health care. And that’s why this ballot initiative is so critical.”

Critics of the initiative have argued that the language of the amendment opens the door to abortions beyond “fetal viability.” Discussion about the amendment skyrocketed after the state Supreme Court ruled 4-2 that a law created in 1864 that bans nearly all abortions could take effect, which led to the state legislature to vote for a repeal of the law. Currently, there is a law that prevents most abortions after 15 weeks in place, and that was passed in 2022.

Even though the governor signed the repeal of the law, there could still be a period where the near-total ban could take effect if the legislative session finishes by the end of June. This is because it takes roughly three months after the session ends for a bill to become effective in state law.

Clark is asking the legislature to finish up for the year to avoid the potential window where the law could be enforceable.

“Well, I can tell you that even on my short visit to Arizona, certainly the provider community is making plans for that and how they are going to be able to address it should it happen,” she said.

“But I would hope that your state legislature would wrap up their legislative session and ensure that that does not happen. But that is why this ballot question is going to be so crucial for the people of Arizona because we have to make sure that this is not a political partisan issue, but there are protections for health care access that are permanent.”

Democrats in Congress like Clark have said that they want to codify Roe measures into law if they retake the House in November. Republicans currently hold a narrow majority in the chamber, and many of them have expressed support for the overturning of Roe in order for abortion policy to be fully considered a state-level issue.

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