Arizona needs clear answers about abortion now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

Opinion: With Roe v. Wade overturned, will Arizona revert to a territorial law that sends all abortion providers to prison? Lawmakers must offer clarity now.

Editorial board Arizona Republic

Federal abortion law established half a century ago no longer defines reproductive rights in America.

Since May 2 when Politico reported it had obtained a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling that would vacate Roe v. Wade, Arizona politicians and legal minds have puzzled what it could mean for our state.

Blue state legislatures such as New York and California have already codified into law what Roe granted women since the 1973 landmark ruling. But more conservative states such as Arizona will have to find a way forward with anti-abortion Republican legislatures clashing with larger populations grown accustomed to Roe v. Wade’s protections.

Polling has long shown that Americans and Arizonans support reproductive choice with qualifiers, perhaps best summed up by former President Bill Clinton’s famous construction that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

Abortion poses difficult moral questions

Arizona has a reputation for conservative politics and rugged individualism. It also has a powerful libertarian streak distrustful of big government and its edicts.

In that spirit, the late Barry Goldwater spent much of his career supporting reproductive choice and helped his wife, Peggy, establish the first family-planning clinic in Phoenix.  

In 1992, Goldwater appeared in ads opposing Proposition 110 that would have prohibited abortion except to save a mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest. Arizonans voted more than 2 to 1 against the initiative.

Abortion has been a wrenching issue in American politics because the moral questions are profound. There are no easy answers.

But society has to decide.

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