December 2023 Church & State Magazine - December 2023

Proposed Mo. ballot language on abortion rights is inaccurate, state court says

 

Language describing several abortion-related ballot questions in Missouri is inaccurate, a state appeals court has ruled.

Abortion-rights proponents are attempting to put the questions on the 2024 ballot. Republican officials in the state, led by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R), prepared summaries of the proposed ballot questions that, abortion-rights advocates charged, were inaccurate and biased, reported the Associated Press.

For one ballot question, Republican leaders proposed language asking Missouri voters whether they want to “allow for dangerous, unregulated, and unrestricted abortions, from conception to live birth, without requiring a medical license or potentially being subject to medical malpractice.”

Another initiative was described as allowing “laws to be enacted regulating abortion procedures after Fetal Viability, while guaranteeing the right of any woman, including a minor, to end the life of their unborn child at any time.”

In response to a lawsuit filed by abortion-rights advocates, a lower court proposed changing the wording of one initiative to “establish a right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, with any governmental interference of that right presumed invalid” and “remove Missouri’s ban on abortion.

“Today, the courts upheld Missourians’ constitutional right to direct democracy over the self-serving attacks of politicians desperately seeking to climb the political ladder,” the ACLU of Missouri said in a statement. The group said the ruling by the Western District Court of Appeals was “a complete rebuke of the combined efforts from the Attorney General and Secretary of State to interfere and deny Missourians their right to initiative process.”

Ashcroft’s office has announced it will appeal the decision in Fitz-James v. Ashcroft.

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