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Republican effort to restore abortion rights in Missouri folds

Abortion Missouri
Posted at 2:10 PM, Feb 08, 2024

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Republican-led campaign to restore abortion rights in Missouri ended Thursday, clearing the path for a competing, more sweeping constitutional amendment to get on the state's November ballot.

“We started this group to restore access to women's health care,” Missouri Women and Family Research Fund Executive Director Jamie Corley said in a statement. “No one wants that, so we have decided to suspend our campaign to amend Missouri's abortion law.”

Corley's withdrawal means a rival campaign backed by Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights groups can move forward without competition. The ballot initiative by Missourians for Constitutional Freedom would enshrine abortion in the state constitution while allowing lawmakers to regulate it after viability.

Both groups sought to go straight to voters after a law passed by Missouri's Republican-led Legislature took effect in 2022 barring almost all abortions. Only abortions in cases of “medical emergencies” are legal in Missouri now.

Corley pitched her initiative petition as a moderate alternative. Under her proposal, abortions would have been allowed for any reason up until 12 weeks into pregnancy. Abortions in cases of rape, incest and fatal fetal abnormalities would be allowed until viability.

Corley said her proposal had a better chance at passing in Missouri, where all elected statewide officeholders are Republicans and anti-abortion groups are hugely influential in state politics.

Missourians for Constitutional Freedom has not responded to an Associated Press emailed request for comment. Earlier this week, the campaign kicked off signature gathering with events statewide.

The campaign needs to collect at least 172,000 voter signatures by May 5 to make it on November's ballot.