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As the election draws near Arizona voters consider the importance of reproductive rights

Posted at 6:23 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 21:23:39-04

PHOENIX — The economy and inflation, two issues that favored Republicans going into the November election, may not be the deciding factors when voters cast their ballots.

Pollsters are seeing signs that voters are concerned about reproductive rights and the move by many Republican legislatures to criminalize abortion.

The boundaries which form the newly drawn Legislative District 4 (LD 4) in north Phoenix solidify it as a swing district.

In 2018 voters chose Doug Ducey for Governor and Kyrsten Sinema for the U.S. Senate.

It's the sort of place where issues like reproductive health care can resonate.

So, it should surprise no one if LD 4 becomes ground zero in Arizona on the abortion issue.

Two incumbent state senators are facing off against one another because of redistricting.

Democrat Christine Marsh is pro-choice while Republican Nancy Barto is the face of Arizona's anti-abortion law.

"I think this issue will be one voters take very serious in the general election," said former State Senator Heather Carter, who represented some of what is now LD 4.

According to pollster Paul Bentz of HighGround Inc., reproductive rights is quickly becoming a signature issue in Arizona's general election.

Bentz says voters support reproductive rights over criminalizing abortions by a 2:1 margin.

"Republicans clearly overplayed their hand going into the general election. I think they thought it was a safe time to do this. I don't think they expected to get as much pushback from the voters as they're seeing on this topic." Bentz said.

Heather Carter believes that could very well be happening in LD 4, "When it comes to this issue it is very complicated and people hold deeply held beliefs. But at the end of the day, the majority of voters want some sort of exception in the law, and that does not exist."

Republicans are taking notice.

Last week U.S. Senate Republican candidate Blake Masters softened his abortion position on his campaign website.

Masters no longer says he's 100% pro-life.

No one expects Nancy Barto to soften her pro-life stance in her LD 4 race.

But Republican Political Consultant Stan Barnes says being on the losing side of the abortion issue in November may have consequences in January. "It might tip the legislature because the legislature is so close in balance between Republicans and Democrats," Barnes said, "I do believe it's tangible as an issue and may make a difference in key swing districts."