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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

ACLU of AZ seeks to support access to abortion

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Wednesday, October 4, 2023   

The ACLU of Arizona was successful in defeating 93% of the bills it opposed during Arizona's last legislative session, which the group claims makes it the most successful session to date.

Belen Gonzalez, president of the organization, said their biggest challenge this year was a divided government where the Republican-controlled legislature attempted to advance what the group calls "anti-civil rights and liberties bills."

Gonzalez argued it is time for a "bold move," toward ensuring what she called "true reproductive freedom." She added next November, they are proud to stand with abortion advocates who plan to ask Arizona voters to expand and protect the right to abortion in the Arizona Constitution.

"This measure will enshrine abortion as a constitutional right in Arizona," Gonzalez explained. "Ensuring that anyone who needs abortion care can get it and that providers are not criminalized for providing health care."

The Arizona Abortion Access Act needs close to 384,000 signatures from voters by July 3 of next year to have the measure on the November 2024 ballot. If passed, it would permit abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions would also be permitted past the point to "protect the physical and mental health," of the mother. Abortion is currently prohibited after 15 weeks in Arizona.

The ACLU of Arizona said the state's 2023 legislative session consisted of continued attacks on democracy.

Darrell Hill, the group's policy director, said Arizona leads the way with anti-democracy bills. One of the bills to catch Hill's eye was Senate Bill 1324, which would have removed the guarantee for a secret ballot by requiring images of all ballots be posted online. Hill argued it would have led to possible voter intimidation.

"The example we used is a situation where a wife and a husband might vote differently, and that husband asks the wife to mark her ballot in a certain way so that he could go and verify that she voted in the that way he wanted."

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes recently released the state's Elections Procedures Manual, which is a rule book informing county officials on how to administer elections in accordance with state law. Hill added they have already weighed in and asked the Secretary of State to expand his instructions surrounding voter registration and ID.


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