Missouri Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick is sticking by his office’s estimates of how much it would cost the state if voters were to legalize abortion again by adding it to the State Constitution. His audit says it could cost local governments about $50,000 a year, with no costs or savings to the state.
Two fellow Republicans are suing his office, claiming that the proposal to make most abortions legal again could cost the state around $12 billion a year. Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, and Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, disagree with fellow Republican Fitzpatrick’s cost estimate.
Fitzpatrick said they are wrong.
“When there’s controversial ballot initiatives that gets circulated, there’s a decent chance we’re gonna get sued by one side or the other. It just happens to be in this case that it’s the side that I agree with that I’m getting sued on. Yeah, in terms of the issue. You know, I’m obviously very opposed to abortion. But the reality is the fiscal note is, is much more correct than what the folks that are suing me want it to say,” Fitzpatrick told Missourinet at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
Fitzpatrick said his job is to provide unbiased information to Missouri voters.
“While I’m adamantly opposed to abortion, you know, lying about the fiscal impact or misstating the fiscal impact – when I don’t believe what I would be saying to be true – would just not be in keeping with my responsibility as auditor and the oath of office I took.”
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 lawsuit filed by Coleman and Kelly is the third one on the proposed vote of the people. It could further delay the gathering of petition signatures. The deadline for the summary for the proposed ballot measure was May 1.
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 is also suing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft over the way the proposed vote of the people 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.”
By Marshall Griffin and Alisa Nelson
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