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Missouri Supreme Court hears arguments about proposed amendment to protect abortion

The Missouri Supreme Court will decide the fate of a ballot measure to change the state’s abortion laws. If voters approve it, it would overturn most, if not all, pro-life Missouri laws and policies.

The prosed amendment would say that the “government shall not infringe upon a person’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” including prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, abortion care, miscarriage care and “respectful birthing conditions”.

Missouri Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick and Attorney General Andrew Bailey, both Republicans, were at odds over the cost estimate of the proposal. The clash is stalling the potential collection of petition signatures for the proposal. During a recent Supreme Court hearing, Jason Lewis of the attorney general’s office said his office’s cost projection is accurate and he wants the state auditor’s estimate to match it. The Court sided with Fitzpatrick.

“It picks winners and losers by including specific numerical estimates for some classification of submitters but not all classifications of submitters,” he said. “It represents just one county’s costs as a representative of 115 different county level entities.”

Anthony Rothert of with the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri called the attorney general’s move “legal gymnastics.”

“This really is the attorney general’s trick here of preventing voters from considering an initiative that he opposes,” he said. “The attorney general can advance this interpretation of the statute only by taking it out of context and ignoring that it allows him to hold hostage and potentially even kill an initiative.”

The next legal fight could be over the summary language explaining the abortion proposal to voters and the amount of time it takes the secretary of state’s office to complete this task. If these become problems for pro-life advocates, the matter could end up in court,  further delaying the collection of signatures.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, is in charge of writing the ballot summary.

Ashcroft announced this week that Missouri Right To Life has endorsed him in the 2024 governor’s race.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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