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Planned Parenthood ASU, YDSA help gather signatures for AZ abortion ballot initiative

Several University student groups are working with state organizations to mobilize voters and collect signatures ahead of the November General Election


ASU's Young Democratic Socialists of America during a demonstration for abortion rights at Hayden Lawn on Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Tempe. 

Since the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions, ASU clubs and abortion-rights Arizona organizations have worked together to ensure the choice to receive an abortion will be on the ballot this November. But other University clubs have expressed approval of the abortion ban and are discouraging its inclusion in the next election.

The Women's Coalition at ASU released a statement on April 22 that reads in part, "The Women's Coalition unequivocally condemns the Arizona Supreme Court's decision and the efforts of lawmakers to enact such restrictive measures."

READ MORE: AZ Supreme Court upholds territorial abortion ban, set to be illegal in nearly all cases

The statement also encourages ASU students to vote in the upcoming November election, stating that Arizona-based organizations are making an effort to get abortion on the ballot.

"By supporting pro-choice candidates and initiatives, we can safeguard access to healthcare and protect reproductive freedom," read the statement from the Women's Coalition at ASU. "Furthermore, Arizona for Abortion Access is actively collecting signatures for an Arizona constitutional amendment to protect access to abortion."

Arizona for Abortion Access was founded in September of 2022, and announced their ballot initiative one year later.

According to AAA's spokesperson, Chris Love, the campaign has received 500,000 signatures since its founding. The amount of signatures required by Arizona to get an initiative on the ballot is 383,923. AAA's aim is to double the amount needed.

READ MORE: Protestors meet at Capitol while House Republicans block vote to repeal abortion ban

Love said AAA's ballot measure process ensures they collect 30% more signatures than the minimum requirement states so they can reduce any potential challenges from skeptics.

"Our goal is to overwhelm them with a significant number of valid signatures so that it almost guarantees that we qualify for the ballot," Love said.

According to Love, AAA has worked with Planned Parenthood Generation Action at ASU to ensure college-age students are registered to vote and are in support of reproductive rights. PPGEN also works closely with Planned Parenthood's Tempe clinic to provide ASU students with health services and support.

Guillermo Robles Barron, the president of PPGEN ASU and a senior studying psychology and sociology, said the mission of the club is to secure abortion access to make sure reproductive justice is reached.

"With this abortion ban, it definitely is something that we're trying to work towards as a campus to move beyond," Barron said. "We have the petitions and basically the whole purpose of that is to use it for the upcoming election."

Young Democratic Socialists of America at ASU is another club that has worked with AAA.

According to Roxanne Ridley, YDSA's communication director and a senior studying math and physics, YDSA has collected "a couple dozen signatures" while canvassing for reproductive rights.

After collecting signatures from Arizona registered voters, YDSA sends the petitions to either Healthcare Rising Arizona or Phoenix Democratic Socialists of America.

Ridley expressed dissatisfaction with the University administration's response to the abortion ban, or the lack thereof. Ridley said they feel it is "unfair to be silenced by bills like HB 2178," which may affect the club's funding now that Gov. Katie Hobbs has signed it into law.

READ MORE: Hobbs signs student activity bill into law despite pushback from ASU clubs

Ridley said they feel the University is reluctant to socially and financially support clubs like YDSA and PPGEN, especially when it comes to advocating for abortion access. 

"Although it’s likely important to ASU for staff and students to receive pregnancy-related healthcare, they don't care enough to do anything about it because abortion access is bundled in with other leftist ideals," Ridley said.

According to Heather Litchfield, the regional coordinator for Students for Life ASU, an anti-abortion club on campus, the organization has "never had any issues with ASU's administration." Litchfield said the University has always supported them and has never prevented the club from hosting a counter-protest or tabling event.

Litchfield said Students for Life is trying to combat AAA's effort to collect signatures that will get abortion on the ballot by implementing a campaign called "Decline to Sign," in which Students for Life "warns people of the danger of having a bill like Arizona for Abortion Access enshrined into the constitution."

Ultimately, Litchfield said she believes the abortion ban is a positive thing that will "protect pre-born rights."

"When we got the news that it was ruled in favor of upholding the 1864 law we were ecstatic," Litchfield said. "We knew that it was going to be a lot of hard work to try to keep this law because there's a lot of people who are very unhappy that abortion has basically been outlawed."

Love disagrees with Litchfield that the law reinstatement will be beneficial, especially considering the time in which the original law was created.

"We're devastated by the (Arizona) Supreme Court's decision," Love said. "I don't think anyone anticipated that in 2024, our court would uphold a law from 1864, when slavery was legal and when women couldn't vote."

Edited by Grey Gartin, Alysa Horton and Caera Learmonth.

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