Missouri’s abortion ban currently includes an exception for health emergencies of the mother. It does not include exceptions for rape and incest. Should it? At the Missouri State Fair last week, several Republican Missouri elected office holders were asked to weigh in on the question.
Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe said he would consider rape and incest exceptions to abortion if he gets a bill like that as governor. Missourinet asked Kehoe if he thinks his stance will hurt his run for governor in 2024 with the further right-leaning conservative crowd.
“Well life of the mother is important as well to me,” said Kehoe. “You have to run for office on who you are and I think you guys many you guys have been around me for many, many years and you know that I’m always going to be the person who I am. I’m always looking for ways to continue to protect life. I think that’s the most ultimate thing that an elected official could do is speak for the unborn, but I also know that there’s some challenging times and families that have to make a decision in some incredibly tough circumstances.”
Kehoe has been criticized for his stance on abortion exceptions by fellow Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who is running for governor, and Senator Bill Eigel, who is considering a gubernatorial bid.
Kehoe said he does not want a pro-choice question on next year’s election ballot.
Some Missouri Republicans have been fighting in court over the proposal – derailing the collection of petition signatures.
“If it gets put on the ballot by an outside group, it probably is outside of the parameters that I would feel comfortable with just based on hearing some of that conversation going on. So I think that’s what would make me nervous about that is that if the initiative petition process results in that question on there, it might be a little bit more aggressive than most Missourians feel it should be,” said Kehoe.
After last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade, U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Missouri, signed Missouri’s order to ban most abortions. Schmitt was the state’s attorney general at the time.
“I think that, you know, it’s inevitable that the question will be presented to Missouri voters at some point. And, you know, my opinion was Roe v. Wade was on a collision course with the Constitution the day it was decided. What will likely happen, which is what, you know, conservatives advocated for a long time is let the state’s decide. And so, I think we’re probably headed for that in a lot of states including Missouri,” said Schmitt. “I support those exceptions — rape and incest. That’s my personal view,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said he defers to voters on a pro-choice question possibly making it on the Missouri election ballot next year.
“I think voters ought to be able to weigh in and in every state and jurisdiction they want to,” Hawley said.
Hawley went on to say he’s not sure if an abortion rights proposal would pass in Missouri.
The Missouri Democratic Party fired back about Hawley’s response.
“Hawley is trying to confuse you,” the party said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Hawley & his wife want to decide the issue for voters. He doesn’t want to see a vote on it. In 2022, Hawley said he hopes the issue will make Missouri more red, pushing Democrats out. Simply put – Josh Hawley doesn’t want it to pass.”
Whether the proposed ballot measure makes it on the 2024 ballot is another question. Three lawsuits have been filed, with two still working their way through the court system. The legal tactics have delayed the potential collection of petition signatures.
One lawsuit has to do with the estimated cost of the proposal to Missouri cities. The other deals with the wording the Secretary of State wants to use to summarize the measure to voters.
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