The following was contributed by Rebecca Heiner.

There is a video clip on YouTube that I believe sums up the abortion debate in a matter of 5 minutes and 26 seconds. The clip is taken from a 2015 House Judiciary Hearing against Planned Parenthood, who has been accused of inhumane abortion medical procedures and the selling of fetal tissue to researchers. The video opens with representative Steve Cohen of Memphis Tennessee at the microphone. He is testifying on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Aggressively pointing his finger to dramatically bring emphasis to his words, he intensely states: “The Investigation of Planned Parenthood is based on false premises, one after another after another. It’s time to stop wasting time, get on with meaningful work, stop picking on women and trying to take their choice away.” He sits back from the microphone, visibly pleased with his statement.  Seated behind him, fellow representatives exchange smug glances and smirks. When he looks back for a moment in their direction, they give him nods of approval.  To them, it is clearly a “mic drop” moment.

The committee chair then introduces the first witness, Dr. Anthony Lavation, a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist and associate professor at Albany Medical College. He has performed over 1,200 abortions in his career and has ample experience in his field. He begins by speaking about the logistics of performing later term abortions (14-22 weeks) which he has done many times. He holds up his hand to show the committee that the size of a baby 22 weeks old is a little larger than your hand. He then holds up examples of the actual tools he would use to remove a baby from the womb: a suction tube and a pair of large tongs with “gripping teeth”’ on the ends. Then, he goes on to describe the procedure.

His description is horrific. The graphic details make your stomach turn, and your heart pound. It is difficult to even fathom the idea of a human being doing such a terrible thing to another living being.  It’s inhumane at best. As he speaks, the room is silent and stunned expressions appear on the faces of all who are present. Unlike the people sitting behind the first speaker, the people behind Dr. Levatino are not exchanging smug glances or approving head nods, as if this is a game or a contest. They look appalled and disgusted.

I have spared the details of his description here because of the graphic and disturbing  nature, but you can watch the video for yourself here. Dr. Levantino, who now refuses to perform abortions, finishes his testimony by sharing how the death of his six-year-old daughter led to this decision to stop.  It woke him up to the reality of what he was doing, and instead of seeing it as a medical procedure, he began to see his daughter in the babies he was aborting. And he could no longer justify this practice.

It is hard to imagine how anyone could hear details like the ones in this video clip and still say they support abortion in any form. Just the thought is repulsive to many people. And yet, here we are…another election year upon us, and abortion rights again being a core issue in politics. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in June of 2022 to overturn the long standing Roe vs. Wade abortion law, which allowed women to legally have abortions, pro-choice advocates have been relentlessly pushing to get reproductive rights out of the hands of state officials, and supposedly back into the hands of women.

This is especially true in the state of Arizona where, even as we speak, pro-choice activists are working to gather at least 383,923 signatures from Arizona voters by July 3rd to get a proposed amendment, the Arizona Abortion Access Act, on the ballot. This proposed amendment to the Arizona constitution would “establish the fundamental right to abortion that the state of Arizona may not interfere with before the point of fetal viability.”  (Viability is defined as the point of pregnancy where the baby can survive outside of the womb without medical assistance). However, this proposed amendment goes far beyond abortion up to the point of viability (an extremely subjective standard, for sure), allowing the mother freedom to literally tear a fully developed baby from her womb for whatever reason she so chooses. (See explanation below.)

The passing of this amendment would be a substantial detriment to the progress made over the past two years, allowing the horrific things described by Dr. Levatino to continue in hospitals and clinics everywhere, all in the name of women’s rights. Let’s take a deeper look into the facts surrounding this proposed amendment, what it means for the future, and what’s really at stake should it pass.

The History and current state of Abortion laws In Arizona

Arizona has a long history of strict anti-abortion laws. Originally, the law stated that anyone who provided, supplied, or administered abortion means would face prison time. The one exception was abortion out of medical necessity to save the mother’s life. The Roe vs Wade victory in1973 replaced these laws, and overnight abortion went from illegal to legal.

In 2022 when the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe, abortion once again became illegal in the state of Arizona. Ever since, pro-choice activists have been working overtime to loosen the laws. Arizona has a newly passed law that allows abortion procedures up to week 15 of a woman’s pregnancy. But even that has not been enough for the abortion movement. This is where the proposed Arizona Abortion Access Act comes into play.

What exactly is the Arizona Abortion Access Act?

On the official website, Arizona for Abortion Access, it says the Abortion Access Act is a proposed constitutional amendment “based on the very-Arizona idea that people have the right to individual autonomy, including in our healthcare decisions, without unnecessary government interference.” This Act would do the following for Arizona citizens:

  • Provide a fundamental right to abortion.
  • Inhibit the state from limiting access to abortion before fetal viability unless they can establish the limitation is to protect the health of the patients, it doesn’t infringe on their autonomous decision making, and uses the least restrictive means.

*Fetal Viability is defined as the time when the baby can survive outside of the mother’s body without medical assistance.

  • Protect access to abortion after fetal viability if a healthcare provider uses credible, evidence-based medicine standards to determine that termination of the pregnancy is needed to protect “the life or physical or mental health of the patient”.
  • Prevent the state (Arizona in this case) from penalizing anyone who assists another person in an abortion.

At least 383,923 petition signatures are required by July 3, 2024, to get this proposal on the ballot. And there is a decent chance they will reach their goal. Supporters are coming out of the woodwork to sign and promote the petition to ensure this happens.  The AZ Ballot Initiative Committee (ACLU of Arizona, Affirm Sexual and Reproductive Health, Arizona List, Healthcare Rising Arizona, Reproductive Freedom for All, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona) and their donors are reportedly putting in $100 million dollars into the initiative. Additionally, Melinda Gates just announced she is donating a one billion dollar grant over the next two years to the Reproductive Rights (contraceptive/abortion) efforts worldwide with a stronger focus than before in the U.S.

On top of that, efforts are underway in other states to make similar amendments to their constitutions. Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, and Nevada all have June and July deadlines for petition signatures. And Colorado, Maryland, Florida, South Dakota, and Missouri already have their proposals on the 2024 ballot. Click here to see an updated map of where each state currently stands on abortion rights.

What It Would Mean for the Future and Why You Should Care

Arizona’s Right to Life group is working to educate people about what the future will bring should the amendment pass. According to their website:

  • The amendment does NOT restrict abortion even after the baby is considered viable. The amendment legalizes abortion up to birth under the broad “mental health” exemption that includes, not only those struggling with mental health issues, but a woman who simply changes her mind or is experiencing stress. The mental health exception has been abused and become a well-known work around to rubber stamp any request for a late term abortion.
  • Parental consent would no longer be mandated for an abortion. (Meaning if a 12-year-old seeks out an abortion, her parents don’t have to be informed).
  • It would remove existing restrictions on the inhumane procedure of partial-birth abortion.
  • It would eliminate almost every pro-life legislation in Arizona. (Too many loopholes and exceptions in the working and language).
  • Ultrasounds will no longer be provided before an abortion.
  • It puts girls and women at significant risk by “eliminating a standard for holding substandard abortion clinics and practitioners accountable” for any harm done to them or the unborn.
  • The amendment sets the stage for the taxpayer to be forced to pay for abortions and for medical professionals to be forced to participate in abortions – violating their conscience rights.

(Go here to see the proposed amendment and explanations of each section.)

Whatever is done in one state, affects and influences what is done in others. By passing laws such as this, even in a single state, has a trickle-down effect for the rest. If women in Arizona are granted “the right to choose,” even up to the point of birth, whether the baby they are carrying should live or die (not to mention the correct understanding that life is the most basic of human rights), what’s going to stop other states from following suit? And what kind of society fights for and approves of procedures that cause violent death to the most vulnerable, and believes they can still thrive? The answer: a highly desensitized, self-serving, and mistaken one.

What YOU can do

For voters within the state of Arizona, one important thing you can do to stop this amendment is “decline to sign” the petition. The Pro-life initiative “It Goes Too Far” states the following: We are urging Arizonans to decline to sign any initiative at this point to prevent them from even making it onto the ballot. The abortion amendment is not as advertised. It is an extreme proposition that greatly expands abortion at the cost of the basic health and safety of girls and women. It Goes Too Far.”  To read more about this and see what else you can do to get involved, click here.

Should the various pro-abortion amendments, including Arizona’s, end up on the ballot this fall, it is imperative that citizens from all these states go to the polls and cast their vote against these ballot initiatives that end the lives of preborn children.  It is essential that we are aware, educated, and involved when it comes to voting.  Don’t forget to share this information and help to educate your family and friends, as well. Additionally, we should take the time to study and learn about the candidates, and what they stand for. Learn their stance on specific issues, and what they plan to do. While there may not be candidates that represent everything we want and believe, we should look for those who align the closest with our beliefs and values because they will dictate our future. Check out the Your State section in our website to learn more about ballot information and how to engage in the election process. The more involved we are, the better prepared we will be when it comes time to vote.

For more information and resources on the Arizona Abortion Access Act and what you can do, visit the following websites: