Court Hears Multiple Challenges to Abortion Initiative Petitions


A Cole County judge this week heard arguments over ballot statements for several initiative petitions seeking to roll back Missouri’s pro-life laws. Challengers allege that the Secretary of State’s ballot summary is misleading. Assistant Attorney General Jason Krol Lewis, representing Secretary of State Ashcroft, argued that the petitions accurately “convey to voters the massive loopholes in the initiative petition that would bring access to effectively unregulated and unrestricted abortion in Missouri.” 

The ballot language being challenged asks voters if they want 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?

In addition, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem heard arguments in a challenge over the fiscal summary of the proposed initiatives filed by Rep. Hannah Kelly (R-Mountain Grove), Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold), and Kathy Forck, a pro-life advocate from New Bloomfield. They contend that the fiscal summary prepared by State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick ignores potential costs, including a possible loss of federal Medicaid funding and future tax revenue. 

After more than two hours of arguments, Judge Beetem gave attorneys until Monday, September 18 to file their final briefs.

September 15, 2023 - 4:18pm

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