Two Missouri Republican lawmakers have filed a lawsuit that could further delay the petition process for a proposed abortion rights ballot measure.
Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, and Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, disagree with fellow Republican State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick’s cost estimate of the potential amendment.
“Missouri voters deserve complete fairness and transparency on the impact of initiative petitions so they can make fully-informed decisions,” they said in a written statement provided to Missourinet. “Our legal challenge to the fiscal note is not about individual officeholders, but about the omission of the true fiscal costs to individual Missourians with measures that could imperil their financial futures, and cost the state billions of dollars in health care funding.”
The 11 pro-choice proposals filed would declare 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”. Anna Fitz-James is organizing the effort to put the question on the 2024 ballot. Roughly 180,000 valid signatures are required to get the measure on the election ballot.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri won in court over a cost disagreement on the proposal between Fitzpatrick and Attorney General Andrew Bailey. Fitzpatrick and Bailey, both Republicans, were far apart on the cost projection – by as much as $12.5 billion.
The ACLU sued to require Bailey to approve Fitzpatrick’s cost projection because the standoff has derailed the potential gathering of petition signatures. The deadline for the summary for the proposed ballot measure was May 1.
The organization had this to say about the new lawsuit:
“This is another attempt by power-obsessed politicians to prevent Missourians from voting on reproductive rights. The bogus lawsuit parrots the already court-rejected claims of the Attorney General,” said Tom Bastian with the ACLU.
The ACLU is also suing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft over the way the ballot measure would be explained to voters. The trial is scheduled for September 11 in Cole County District Court.
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.”
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