Backers of a ballot initiative that would overturn Missouri’s near total ban on abortion have turned in more than 380,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. About 172,000 of those signatures have to be verified in order for the proposal to be added to the November ballot.

The team effort is a Missouri-led group that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and Abortion Action Missouri.

“You know, there shouldn’t be any hiccups cause we clearly followed the law,” said Tori Schafer with the ACLU. “Our volunteers, you can talk to any of them, they followed the rules to a ‘T.’ Like we’ve said, we exceeded our signature goal, but we are, of course, preparing for anything, and we’re confident that any attacks that we experienced are political(ly) motivated and we’ll win again in court.”

This follows a lengthy court battle with Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft over the wording used to summarize what the measure would do.

Mallory Schwarz with Abortion Action Missouri addressed a counter campaign to withdraw the signatures.

“I think it shows that they know that they can’t beat us,” she said. “They know that Missourians aren’t with them. If they thought they could win this on its merits, if they thought they could defeat us on their merits, they wouldn’t be resorting to underhanded attacks, disinformation, and blatant lies.”

The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District unanimously struck down Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s attempts to change ballot wording on six abortion proposals.

Emily Wales with Planned Parenthood Great Plains said that anti-abortion politicians have been ‘blatant.’

“Their attempts to make the process harder to participate in direct democracy is about abortion access,” she said. “It is about seeing in state after state after state the people want private medical care, they want to make their own decisions, including about abortion. They want to make it harder for the people of Missouri to actually participate in this process because they will restore abortion access.”

Ashcroft’s language would have asked voters, among other things, whether to allow for “dangerous, unregulated, and unrestricted abortions, from conception to live birth.” The three-judge panel heard the case and issued a decision, saying that the secretary chose to use politically partisan language to explain to voters what the proposals would do.

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