Arizona Abortion Access Now Hinges On A Referendum | Crooked Media
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April 09, 2024
What A Day
Arizona Abortion Access Now Hinges On A Referendum

In This Episode

  • The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, that an 1864 law banning almost all abortions is enforceable. The only exception is if a pregnant person’s life is at risk. The court stayed its decision for at least 14 days pending other legal challenges. Chris Love, one of the lead organizers behind an effort to get an abortion rights amendment on Arizona’s November ballot, explains what the decision means for the fight for reproductive rights in the state.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule that will force more than 200 chemical plants to reduce their toxic emissions. The rule targets two chemicals the EPA says are likely carcinogens. Most of the affected plants are in just two states: Texas and Louisiana.And in headlines: A Michigan court sentenced both of Ethan Crumbley’s parents to 10 to 15 years in prison for failing to stop him from carrying out a mass shooting. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he hasn’t found any evidence of Israel committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. And Mattel said it will debut an easier version of the game Scrabble.


Show Notes:





Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, April 10th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The pod that wants politicians to just deliver on their promises. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, but we will make one exception for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He just joined TikTok and he promised not to dance. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh, no. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But that is a promise I want to see broken. 


Juanita Tolliver: I don’t know if I agree, friend. Is he a good dancer? [laughter] 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think so. But I think that’s the point. Like, I think if you’re going to join TikTok, do the dance. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, we’ll explain how important the EPA’s new regulation on chemical plants will be for the environment and people’s health. Plus, Scrabble in Europe is debuting an easy mode. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, we saw another devastating blow to reproductive rights yesterday. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that an 1864 law banning almost all abortions is enforceable. The only exception in this law is if a pregnant person’s life is at risk. The court stayed its decision for at least 14 days, while other legal challenges play out. The Arizona High Court cited the US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision striking down Roe v Wade as the basis for its decision yesterday. That’s just like the decision from the Florida Supreme Court last week, effectively allowing the state’s six week abortion ban to go into effect. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. It’s insane. It’s awful. There’s no way around it. But I also remember last week in headlines, we talked about a push in Arizona to get a referendum on the November ballot to amend the state’s constitution to protect abortion access. So is there still some hope here? 


Juanita Tolliver: There is still some hope. To get a better sense of what this means for the effort to protect abortion rights in Arizona’s constitution, I spoke with Chris Love. She’s a senior adviser for Planned Parenthood of Arizona and one of the organizers behind the ballot initiative. I started by asking about her reaction to yesterday’s ruling in Arizona. 


Chris Love: Devastated is probably an understatement. This is clearly what we’ve been telling people was at stake for a long time that, you know, our abortion rights rests at the whim of an anti-abortion legislature and a Supreme Court that was mostly appointed by an anti-abortion governor. And so the best protection possible is for us to enshrine abortion rights in our state constitution. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now, the court did put this decision on hold, at least for the next 14 days. And that’s while more legal challenges play out. But what immediate effect do you think that this will have? 


Chris Love: Well, I think it has a chilling effect. Right? Um. While we’re kind of in this in-between period, there’s going to be some confusion for Arizonans who need abortion services. Right? So I want to make it clear that abortion providers are still going to be performing services, right, unless and until they’re told not to. But that confusion has always been the point here in Arizona. And for us, it serves an example of why this ballot measure that we’re offering is more important now than ever. 


Juanita Tolliver: And meanwhile, a 15 week abortion ban is in place in the state. How has that reshaped abortion access in Arizona since the fall of Roe v Wade in 2022? 


Chris Love: Well, the 15 week ban is just that, a ban. And bans harm pregnant patients in Arizona. It harms folks who are experiencing problems with their pregnancies. It harms folks who are survivors of sexual violence. Um. But most importantly, it harms every Arizonan because we believe that we fundamentally should have the right to make decisions about our health care, our lives, and our futures. 


Juanita Tolliver: And your group, Arizona for Abortion Access, said last week that it had gathered more than enough signatures to get an abortion rights amendment to the state’s constitution on the November ballot. What more needs to be done to ensure that it does get on the ballot? 


Chris Love: Well, we’re happy with 500,000 signatures, and I think it demonstrates that Arizonans are excited to have this on the ballot. At the same time, we understand that we need to keep collecting signatures until that deadline to ensure that we have the approximately 384,000 valid signatures in order to make the ballot in November. So we’re going to keep moving forward um and talking to Arizonans from across the political spectrum about reproductive freedom, um and then turn in what we hope will be more than double the number of required signatures. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes. Clear the bar. So there are no questions from anyone about this. I appreciate that. And Arizona is a key swing state in the upcoming presidential election. Most recent polls show President Biden trailing former President Trump in the state. There’s also a major race for an open Senate seat. And as you point out, abortion access has had appeal across the political spectrum. It also is a politically potent issue for Democrats. But how are you planning to frame the issue heading into the election if you do successfully get on the ballot? 


Chris Love: Well, I think our messaging will be the same, right? We know what’s at stake. Even with this court decision. We know that we also have an anti-abortion uh majority in our legislature that is chomping at the bit to do anything to prevent abortion rights, but also just generally reproductive freedom. Right. So we’re going to talk to people from across the political spectrum, because they agree with us that pregnant patients should have the freedom to make decisions about their health care, including abortion and pregnancy, with their families and their medical providers, and without politicians or government or activist judges. 


Juanita Tolliver: And you have referenced the Republican control of the state House a couple of times in our chat, but at least a few of them have criticized the ruling and say this 1864 law should be repealed in favor of maintaining the 15 week abortion ban. Would you work with such lawmakers to at least see this horrificly draconian law, which doesn’t even have exceptions for rape or incest, repealed in the short term? 


Chris Love: I would tell Arizona voters to not believe the hype, because I think a lot of these people–


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. 


Chris Love: These people have gone on record repeatedly stating their opposition to abortion rights here in the state. Just as recently as last month, we had a Republican legislator who advised women who seeking uh reproductive health care to keep an aspirin between their knees. So I think these folks have made it very clear where they stand. I think that they are obviously moderating their position because this is an election year, but our focus is making sure that we’re providing Arizona voters with as much information as they can possibly stand, so that they understand what’s at stake, and they will support us in November. 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. For our listeners in Arizona, what do you want to see them do heading into November and to show their support for this campaign? 


Chris Love: Go to our website. All spelled out 


Juanita Tolliver: And what about for our listeners outside of Arizona? What do you want them to do to show their support? 


Chris Love: We appreciate donations, right. These are expensive campaigns. And in order to get our message out more than our opposition, we need money in order to do so. So anything that folks can spare, we’re happy to take. And once we get on the ballot, there will be opportunities from folks from out of state to come and help us spread our message through canvasing, um through making phone calls, um doing a number of volunteer activities for us. So I would say go check our website early and often to find those opportunities. 


Juanita Tolliver: That was my conversation with Chris Love. She’s a senior advisor for Planned Parenthood of Arizona and one of the organizers behind the ballot initiative. We’ll keep an eye on this story, especially as we approach the July deadline to submit signatures to the Secretary of State. In the meantime, you can help fight for abortion rights wherever you are by heading to And tomorrow Hysteria will also break down all the repercussions of the decision. Tune into Hysteria wherever you get your podcasts. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Thank you so much for that Juanita. I want to switch now to some positive developments from the EPA. Under a new rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday, over 200 chemical plants all around the country will be required to reduce their toxic emissions. This will be the first time in almost two decades that the federal government has updated these kinds of limits on pollution from chemical plants, and by doing so, the EPA hopes to reduce the risk of cancer for the people living close to these facilities. 


Juanita Tolliver: Tell us more about the specific chemicals being regulated here and the areas that this is supposed to impact?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes happily. So this rule specifically targets two chemicals that the EPA says are likely carcinogens. The first is ethylene oxide, which is used to sterilize medical devices, and the second is chloroprene, which is used to make rubber in footwear. But it also requires the plants to reduce emissions of four other toxic chemicals as well. This will have impacts on facilities all across the U.S., but it’s important to note that over half of them are in Texas and Louisiana specifically. As you could probably guess, the majority of the communities that live near these plants are disproportionately Black and Latino. They also have elevated rates of cancer, respiratory issues, and premature deaths, which is not a coincidence given where they live. 


Juanita Tolliver: This is not a coincidence, and this is yet another wakeup call for anyone who doesn’t think that environmental policy is related to social justice. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. Uh. You probably have heard the term cancer alley before. That refers to an 85 mile area in Louisiana that is home to over 200 petrochemical plants and refineries. These chemicals, in particular, have been a major source of concern and complaints from the residents of that area and activists all over the country for some time. EPA Administrator Michael Regan traveled to that area in 2021 to announce the agency’s goal of limiting pollution from those plants. And he referenced that trip specifically as he signed this rule yesterday. Take a listen. 


[clip of Michael Regan] My trip to cancer alley in 2021, quite frankly, is one that I’ll never forget. Being on the ground and seeing firsthand, what Mr. Taylor just described. Multi generational widespread havoc that pollution can cause on so many lives is truly eye opening. And it was that experience that set the tone for this EPA’s approach to environmental justice. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, that heartbreaking reality when he said multi-generational like, wow, wow, that’s decades and decades of impact. And this isn’t the first time that the Biden administration has tried to tackle toxic emissions from this area in particular. Tell us more about that back story. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So back in 2022, the EPA actually opened an investigation into whether Louisiana violated civil rights laws by letting all these plants operate in and near Saint John the Baptist Parish, which is a predominantly Black community in Louisiana that also has the highest cancer risk in the entire country. And they initially found evidence of discrimination. But in response, Louisiana sued the EPA. They said that the Civil Rights Act could only be enforced against state policies that were explicitly discriminatory. And in January, a U.S. District court sided with them. Prior to that ruling the EPA dropped their investigation without releasing any findings publicly, but many view this new rule as part of the agency’s efforts to combat this pollution despite the setbacks with the civil rights case. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, I feel like this back and forth in court and with these rules is an clear indicator of the ongoing tensions between the EPA and Louisiana state officials. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: But this new rule shows that the EPA is still fighting to help people who are in harm’s way. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. Regan called this rule ambitious, and he noted that officials here worked hard to protect so many communities. Obviously, that includes the people who live in this area, Cancer Alley, but also people in Texas, all along the Gulf Coast, the South, the Midwest, who are all living in areas that are threatened by this kind of hazardous pollution and these kind of plants. As for the impact here, Regan said that this rule is expected to cut more than 6200 tons of toxic air pollutants annually and reduce emissions of these two chemicals by 80%. It will also implement fenceline monitoring that will measure these emissions near these facilities, and require the chemical manufacturers to plug any leaks that they find. After a year of monitoring, these facilities will be required to submit data quarterly to the EPA, and those figures will be made public so that the communities nearby can understand what is going on and the risks that they may face. Obviously, we will continue to follow this, but that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Juanita Tolliver: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Juanita Tolliver: A Michigan court sentenced both of Ethan Crumbley parents to 10 to 15 years in prison yesterday for failing to stop him from carrying out a mass shooting. You might remember that Crumbley opened fire at Oxford High School in 2021, killing four of his classmates. He was sentenced to life in prison, and his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were both convicted on four counts of involuntary manslaughter earlier this year, one for each victim of the shooting. The two had separate trials, but prosecutors in both cases argued that the Crumbleys bore some responsibility for the massacre. They were the ones who gifted their son the handgun he used to carry out the shooting, and they didn’t take the necessary steps to store the weapon in a safe place. Families of the Oxford shooting victims were present in the courtroom for yesterday’s sentencing, and many of them expressed their frustration with how the Crumbleys showed no remorse for their son’s actions. Take a listen to Nicole Beausoleil, whose 17 year old daughter was killed in the 2021 shooting. 


[clip of Nicole Beausoleil] The lack of compassion that you’ve shown is outright disgusting. Not only did your son kill my daughter, but you both did as well. 


Juanita Tolliver: This makes the Crumbleys the first parents to ever be held criminally responsible for a mass shooting committed by their child. 


Priyanka Aribindi: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said yesterday that he hasn’t found any evidence of Israel committing genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. 


[clip of US Defense Secretary Llyod Austin] We don’t have any evidence of genocide being created. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Austin made the remarks during a Senate committee hearing as he pushed for the U.S. to send more military aid to Israel. Protesters interrupted his testimony multiple times, chanting stop funding Israel and stop the genocide in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel claimed that more than 460 trucks of much needed humanitarian aid arrived in Gaza yesterday. But relief organizations say that the actual amount is much lower. Officials from aid groups like the Red Crescent reported hundreds fewer trucks crossing into the strip on Tuesday, and the UN said that many of the trucks were only half full due to Israeli inspection policies. U.N. officials also said that even if Israel’s numbers were right, it’s nowhere near enough to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Before October 7th, Gaza received around 500 trucks of aid and other supplies every single day to sustain the population. Our friends over at Pod Save the World interviewed David Miliband, the head of the International Rescue Committee, about how crucial it is to keep aid flowing into Gaza. Take a listen. 


[clip of David Miliband] It’s a catastrophe that’s getting worse. And what we know is that there’s no precedent for a country that had no famine to turn into a situation where half the population are facing literally famine in the space of six months. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You can hear more of that conversation on today’s episode of Pod Save the World. 


Juanita Tolliver: And things are heating up in the fight against climate change. Europe’s top human rights court issued a landmark ruling yesterday, saying that the Swiss government violated citizen’s human rights by not doing more to protect them from the effects of climate change. This case was filed by more than 2000 older women, who said that their government has been failing to protect their health and livelihoods during dangerously high temperatures caused by climate change. They also said that the Swiss government must be held accountable, since it did not meet its promised reduced carbon emissions target. Take a listen to climate activist Greta Thunberg, who spoke with the Guardian after the court’s ruling. 


[clip of Greta Thunberg] Today’s rulings make very clear that the European states have a legal responsibility to take real climate action and to protect people and to protect its citizens. 


Juanita Tolliver: According to The New York Times, experts say that this is the first ruling from an international court declaring that governments must meet their climate targets under human rights law. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is a huge deal and really something I’m very curious and excited to see how this plays out in other places going forward, because the implications of this could be monumental. Norfolk Southern, the rail company responsible for the 2023 East Palestine train derailment said yesterday that it agreed to settle for $600 million in a class action lawsuit. It’s a win for the residents of the Ohio town, where dozens of hazardous chemicals spilled from the freight train. This led to a dangerous fire that spewed toxic smoke into the air, and residents have reported headaches, skin rashes and respiratory issues ever since. The company’s $600 million settlement addresses a class action claim filed by individuals within a 20 mile radius of the initial disaster, who say that they were impacted. The money will go towards the future medical needs of victims, but they are concerned that this 600 million won’t be enough. Experts told The Associated Press that it may take years to understand the long term health effects that this chemical disaster has had on this community. 


Juanita Tolliver: Finally, weak is 11 points in Scrabble, so we’re going to give 11 points to Mattel in Europe. The game maker owns the rights to the board game there, and it announced yesterday that it’s debuting a newer, easier version of the game. It’s called Scrabble Together, and it’ll be built onto the other side of a traditional Scrabble board. Instead of competing with words that no one ever uses in real life, like Za. Players complete goals on cards. Those goals include play a vertical word and play a word with at least two different vowels. This feels wrong in so many ways. [laughter] Like I’d feel a little bit differently if this was meant for children learning to read Hooked on Phonics type collaboration, but it doesn’t seem to be that. Mattel said in a statement that the new version is designed to be more accessible and less competitive. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hmm. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. I’m like, mm do we want that? [laugh] It added that in its own research of British people, younger generations are becoming slightly less competitive. For competitive people in the USA that’s three points right there, you can keep winning. Hasbro makes Scrabble in America, and according to the Associated Press, it has no plans to update the U.S. version. I feel like if we started there, my anxiety would not have peaked. I feel a lot better about the situation now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Are you even a devoted Scrabble player? 


Juanita Tolliver: No, it’s just about competition. Do not dilute the rules. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Just a devoted competitor. And that is what I love about you. 


Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines. [laughter] [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, give us a TikTok dance Olaf, and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just the list of 107 two letter Scrabble words like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


[spoken together] And we’re unbeatable at Scrabble. 


Juanita Tolliver: Or in anything. Let’s just expand this, right. Like, if I’m competing, I’m going to win. I will find a way to win. It doesn’t matter what it is. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I might be beatable as Scrabble, but I’m not beatable in something that I actually will be competitive about. And that’s only going to be stuff I’m good at. 


Juanita Tolliver: Period. 


Priyanka Aribindi: At Scrabble fine, fine I’ll give it to you. [laughter] [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Erica Morrison, Michell Eloy, Greg Walters and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Leo Duran and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.