JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri-Voters in Missouri may be able to decide on the restoration of abortion rights in the Show-Me State, if constitutional amendments publicized late last week
make it onto the ballot pn 2024.
The potential amendment to Missouri’s Constitution would protect abortion rights and pregnant women, and access to birth control as well.
Currently, most reasons for abortions are outlawed Missouri. The only exceptions are for medical emergencies; yet there are no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
The Missouri proposals are backed by a new group called Missourians for Constitutional Freedom. To date, the organization has hired at least one Missouri Democratic strategist. The group and its treasurer has not yet responded to a request for comment last week.
Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature crafted a law, signed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson back in 2019, to ban most abortions in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade. The law took effect last year, following the court’s decision ending constitutional protections for abortion.
Multiple coalitions of conservative lawmakers, including a prominent GOP donor, attempted to put the law to a public vote back in 2019. But Jay Ashcroft, Republican Secretary of State, broadly thought to be a serious contender for Missouri governor in 2024, initially rejected the petitions until a court forced him to approve them.
Advocates ultimately gave up on efforts to put the law to a public vote, accusing Ashcroft of dragging his feet in handling the proposals and leaving them with the impossible task of collecting the roughly 100,000 voter signatures needed in just two weeks.
Ashcroft also will play a role in the fate of Missouri’s pending constitutional amendments. His office is in charge of writing summaries of the proposals, which are used as voter guides.
Republican lawmakers have long been trying to eliminate initiative petitions, which have been used to enact policies that the Republican-led Legislature either avoided dealing with or opposed. For example, a 2020 citizen-led ballot initiative forced the state to expand Medicaid coverage, despite years of resistance from Republicans.
Other efforts by abortion-rights advocates to lift Missouri’s ban on the procedure include a lawsuit filed last January by religious leaders who support abortion rights. They argue that lawmakers openly invoked their religious beliefs while drafting the measure and thereby imposed those beliefs on others who don’t share them.
The lawsuit is pending.
Summer Ballentine of the Associated Press contributed to the
writing of this article.