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'Missourians will stand up': Planned Parenthood Great Plains reacts to support for abortion referendum

Emily Wales
Posted at 5:02 PM, May 03, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Members of the Missourians for Constitutional Freedom coalition delivered over 380,000 petition signatures Friday from residents across every county in Missouri to Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's office in Jefferson City.

This is part of the effort to get an abortion referendum on the November ballot.

“We needed just over 172,00 signatures; we saw an incredible, across-the-state effort where volunteers came out, they collected more signatures than we could have imagined," Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO Emily Wales said Fridy from outside the Missouri State Capitol. "And, every single time we set up an event or told people we’d be collecting signatures, we saw folks come out of their way — some people traveled over an hour just to get to a location to be able to sign to put abortion rights on the ballot.”

After the Dobbs decision in 2022, Missouri's trigger law went into effect and outlawed most abortions.

“Abortion is not a partisan issue, and when the politicians who are here in the dome use it to try to control people’s bodies, Missourians will stand up, they will fight back, and they’re going to take back the rights that belong to them," Wales said.

The coalition faced a delay in getting signatures because of a legal battle last year. A state appeals court sided with the coalition over Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft after he tried to change the petition's wording, according to the Associated Press. The court said Ashcroft's version was politically partisan.

After three months of collecting signatures and delivering them directly to Ashcroft's office in boxes on Friday, it's now up to Ashcroft to validate them.

“There was so much politicking and shenanigans — particularly in the Secretary of State’s Office — in trying to prevent voters to have access to making this decision for themselves about what to put into the constitution," Wales said. "The getting through litigation, actually getting petitions out into communities and seeing this response in just three months, it is hard to state just how enthusiastic Missourians are, and how badly they want to say to the government, ‘It’s not your business, let us get the health care we need.’”

The coalition held a rally outside the Missouri State Capitol after delivering the signatures.