The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft head to court Wednesday in part two of a battle over a proposed abortion rights ballot measure. The ACLU is suing Ashcroft over the language used to summarize to voters the intent of the potential 2024 proposal.

“We are challenging the summary statements produced by the Secretary of State as they are all insufficient, intentionally argumentative, deceptive, and fail to advise voters of the initiative’s purpose, which is to establish the freedom to make decisions about health care including prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, abortion care, miscarriage care, and respectful birthing conditions.”

“The Secretary of State received notice on Thursday when the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Attorney General’s stall tactics. If he is serious about his oath to the Constitution, he will carry out his duty to certify the ballot title immediately without further delay,” said Tom Bastian, with the ACLU.

The court hearing will be in Cole County Circuit Court.

“Our office will defend the language that we’ve written because we accurately portray what the changes in the Constitution would do if the initiative petition is approved,” Ashcroft told Missourinet.

Ashcroft, a Republican who is running for governor, has submitted language that asks voters whether 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;”

•nullify “longstanding Missouri law protecting the right to life, including but not limited to partial-birth abortion;”

•allow for laws to be enacted regulating abortion procedures “after 24 weeks, while guaranteeing the right of any woman, including a minor, to end the life of their unborn child at any time; and”

• “require the government not to discriminate against persons providing or obtaining an abortion, potentially including tax-payer funding.”

According to Ashcroft, ballot measures that people think will pass or have a chance of passing, usually end up in court.

“Almost every time there’s an initiative petition that has a real chance of making it to the ballot, you will see litigation with regard to either the fiscal note or the ballot title or both. Because either the side that wants it to pass wants to do everything they can to make it sound as good as possible and people vote on it, or the sides against it wants to do everything they can to push to make it sound bad so people will vote against it,” said Ashcroft.

Ashcroft said roughly 180,000 valid signatures are required to get the measure on the election ballot.

The ACLU won a lawsuit this month against Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who contested the state auditor’s cost projection of the measure – eating time to gather potential petition signatures. The deadline for the state to complete work on the ballot language summary and cost projection was May 1.

Wednesday’s court hearing is at 11:30 a.m. before Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum.

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