Missouri proposals could put abortion back on the ballot – Roce Today

Missouri voters could decide whether to restore abortion rights in the state if constitutional amendments released Thursday make it to the 2024 ballot.

The proposals would amend the Missouri Constitution to protect abortion and pregnant women’s rights, as well as access to birth control.

Currently, most abortions are illegal in the state. There are exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.

Missouri’s proposals are being championed by a new group called Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, which has hired at least one Missouri Democratic strategist. The group and its treasurer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Missouri’s Republican-led legislature drafted legislation signed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in 2019 to ban most abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The law took effect last year after a court ruling ended constitutional protections for abortion.

Several coalitions of lawmakers, including a top Republican donor, tried to put the law on a public vote in 2019. But Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, widely considered the front-runner for Missouri governor in 2024, initially rejected the petitions until a court forced him to. him to approve them.

Advocates eventually abandoned efforts to put the law to a public vote, accusing Ashcroft of dragging his feet on drafting the proposals and leaving them with the impossible task of gathering nearly 100,000 voter signatures in just two weeks.

Ashcroft will also play a role in the fate of Missouri’s pending constitutional amendment. His office prepares proposition summaries, which are used as a guide for voters.

Once Ashcroft and other elected officials complete the summary and fiscal analysis, advocates can begin collecting the voter signatures needed to get the proposal on the ballot.

A proposal by Missouri activists would allow a referendum on a constitutional amendment protecting abortion at the state level. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Abortion rights advocates in Missouri are the latest to go directly to voters in hopes of regaining rights they lost after Roe was struck down.

In August, Kansas voters sent a resounding message about their desire to protect abortion rights by rejecting a ballot measure to add language to the Kansas Constitution stating that it does not grant abortion rights.

Abortion-rights supporters won four states with ballot access in November, as voters enshrined it in battleground state Michigan, as well as in state constitutions in blue California and Vermont, and lost the fight against abortion. red kentucky.

Ohio advocates filed ballot proposals in February to establish a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” with “reasonable limits.”

Missouri’s proposed constitutional changes would allow the Republican-led legislature and state agencies to place some restrictions on abortions.

But restrictions on abortion would only be allowed “if it is for a limited purpose and has a limited effect on improving or preserving the health of the person seeking care, meets widely accepted clinical standards of practice and evidence-based medicine, and does not violate that person’s autonomous decision-making.” – the amendment says.

Penalties for both patients seeking reproductive care and healthcare providers would be outlawed.

Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers are focused this year on raising the bar for amending the state Constitution from a simple majority vote to at least 60%, which could make it harder to pass abortion rights proposals.

Republican lawmakers have tried for years to suppress the initiative petitions, which were used to implement policies that the Republican-led legislature either avoided dealing with or opposed. For example, a 2020 citizen-led ballot initiative led the state to expand Medicaid coverage despite longstanding Republican resistance.

Other efforts by abortion rights advocates to overturn Missouri’s ban on the procedure include a lawsuit filed in January by abortion rights religious leaders. They argue that legislators explicitly invoked their religious beliefs when drafting the bill and thereby imposed those beliefs on others who did not share them. The trial is ongoing.

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