Pro-choice group moves to amend Arizona Constitution to allow late-term abortions

Fetal viability is generally defined by medical professionals as 23–24 weeks of gestation.

Published: September 24, 2023 11:24pm

The group Arizona for Abortion Access is circulating a petition to amend the Arizona Constitution to expand and protect abortion access, including a section that would allow a pregnant woman to abort her fully viable fetus for mental health reasons.

Arizona banned abortions after 15 weeks last year following the Supreme Court's decision to overrule the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, making the state one of the more restrictive ones in the Southwest when it comes to the procedure.

The proposed amendment states that "every individual has a fundamental right to abortion" and the state will not adopt any law that "denies, restricts or interferes with that right before fetal viability unless justified by a compelling state interest that is achieved by the least restrictive means." 

It also states that Arizona will not enact a law that prevents an "abortion after fetal viability that, in the good faith judgment of a treating health care professional, is necessary to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual."

The proposed amendment defines fetal viability as "the point in pregnancy when ... there is a significant likelihood of the fetus's sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures."

Fetal viability is generally defined by medical professionals as 23 to 24 weeks of gestation. At this point, infants are typically taken to the neonatal intensive care unit and they have about a 50% chance of survival with significant medical intervention. 

It is unclear how the proposed amendment would define "extraordinary medical measures." The earliest baby to survive premature birth was born at 21 weeks, according to KFF Health News. However, even babies born at 25 to 26 weeks still typically require help to breathe, and babies at 29 to 30 weeks still need to be fed through a tube, according to the educational outlet Verywell Family.

The proposed amendment also does not state who would be included as a "health care professional," but physicians are currently the only people authorized to perform abortions in Arizona, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.

If the proposed amendment receives 383,923 valid signatures, it will be on the ballot during the 2024 election, according to the AZ Mirror.

The petition to change the constitution comes as Democrats and the media insist that "no one" supports abortions up until the moment of birth.

Arizona for Abortion Access did not respond to Just the News' request for comment, nor did multiple pro-life organizations. 

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News