Critics of Missouri abortion law sue over referendum failure

4 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, August 22 2019 Aug 22, 2019 Thursday, August 22, 2019 4:02:00 PM CDT August 22, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

COLUMBIA (AP) — Abortion-rights advocates on Thursday sued Missouri's top election official, alleging his actions and state laws denied them the right to put one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws to a public vote.

No Bans on Choice Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union sought to put the law on the 2020 ballot in hopes that voters would overturn it. The measure bans abortions at or after eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.

But they ran out of time to gather enough signatures to put the law on holding pending a public vote. It's slated to take effect on Aug. 28

Attorneys for those who sued put the blame on Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. They claim Ashcroft dragged his feet in processing the referendum petition, leaving them with only two weeks to gather 100,000 signatures.

ACLU of Missouri Acting Director Tony Rothert said at this point, there's nothing to do to salvage the referendum effort. Instead, critics of the law want a Cole County judge to rule that petitioners should be allowed to collect signatures earlier in the referendum process, possibly preventing a similar issue from happening again.

"We want to make sure that Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and any future politician is never able to deny Missourians the right to put laws like this abortion ban to a vote," No Bans on Choice Treasurer Robin Utz said.

A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, which defends state laws against court challenges, said state attorneys are currently reviewing the lawsuit.

Ashcroft spokeswoman Maura Browning didn't immediately comment on the lawsuit, saying the office needs to read it first. But she's previously said the Secretary of State's Office "followed the same process we use for every initiative petition and referendum, and has taken an amount of time comparable to any other petition or referendum."

Critics point out that Ashcroft on June 6 rejected the ACLU's petition, along with a similar petition backed by wealthy Republican donor David Humphreys, another critic of the law.

He had cited a provision in the Missouri Constitution that prohibits referendums on legislation that has already taken effect. Although most of the law is set to take effect Aug. 28, the Republican-led Legislature voted to make a section of the bill that changed parental consent laws for minors seeking abortions take effect immediately.

But the ACLU sued against Ashcroft's decision, and ultimately won.

Browning has said the ACLU could have saved time by filing the petition 11 days earlier, after the Legislature passed the bill. The ACLU waited until Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed it May 24.

"It's now been adjudicated that he broke the law," Acting ACLU of Missouri Director Tony Rothert said of Ashcroft's action, "and he's trying to weasel out of responsibility for that."

In the lawsuit, attorneys for those who sued also alleged that Missouri laws impede citizens' right to referendum. That's because for referendums, state law prohibits petitioners from collecting signatures until a ballot title is certified.

"State officials can prevent a referendum on a favored piece of legislation simply by using all of their statutorily allotted time to complete their administrative tasks and thereby delaying certification of a ballot title for 51 days after a proposed referendum petition is submitted," the lawsuit alleged.

Karisa Gilman-Hernandez told reporters Thursday that she and thousands of other volunteers for No Bans on Choice spent money on training to collect voter signatures and had planned to be ready at a moment's notice to begin the effort.

NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Mallory Schwarz said abortion-rights advocates are now redirecting resources toward registering voters in advance of the 2020 elections. Both Parson and Ashcroft are up for re-election.

More News

Grid
List
ASHLAND- Dozens of children from across mid-Missouri came together to play and learn about a potential profession at the annual... More >>
12 hours ago Saturday, January 18 2020 Jan 18, 2020 Saturday, January 18, 2020 6:53:00 PM CST January 18, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS — Thousands of St. Louis-area families were freed from a major financial burden thanks to a charitable effort... More >>
13 hours ago Saturday, January 18 2020 Jan 18, 2020 Saturday, January 18, 2020 6:25:00 PM CST January 18, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - With more than 450 attendees,Bur Oak brewery was packed for the fifth annual 2020 MO Bacon & Bourbon... More >>
14 hours ago Saturday, January 18 2020 Jan 18, 2020 Saturday, January 18, 2020 4:48:00 PM CST January 18, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A few days after her son was born on Super Bowl Sunday Ellen Gill learned he... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, January 18 2020 Jan 18, 2020 Saturday, January 18, 2020 2:18:00 PM CST January 18, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Police arrested a man in connection to shots fired reported on Friday night at the Walmart on Broadway,... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, January 18 2020 Jan 18, 2020 Saturday, January 18, 2020 2:03:00 PM CST January 18, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The owner of a tourist duck boat that sank in a Missouri... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, January 18 2020 Jan 18, 2020 Saturday, January 18, 2020 12:56:00 PM CST January 18, 2020 in News
FULTON - Inspirational speaker and former Minor League Baseball outfielder Chris Singleton, who lost his mother in a shooting at... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, January 18 2020 Jan 18, 2020 Saturday, January 18, 2020 9:01:00 AM CST January 18, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA – The city of Columbia reporter hundreds of residents were without power Friday afternoon in east central Columbia, in... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 6:03:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former Walmart Inc. chief executive David Glass, who owned the Kansas City Royals for nearly... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 5:24:21 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
MID-MISSOURI - Another week in January, and another winter storm. This time around it will likely all happen in one... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 4:46:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in Weather
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Fire Department is reminding residents to make sure their home is safe during these cold temperatures. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 4:03:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Boone Hospital Center will hold a job fair specifically for former employees of Pinnacle Hospital on Tuesday. The... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 3:12:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
FULTON - Police arrested a second suspect involved in a burglary Friday afternoon near W. 7th and Airway. Police... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 3:05:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The last flight to land at Columbia Regional Airport Friday touched down at 10:00 a.m. Those departing the... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 2:52:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Sleet and freezing rain hit across mid-Missouri throughout the day Friday. Jefferson City Public Works director... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 2:52:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia is reporting more than 1,000 people are without power in east central Columbia, in... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 2:26:12 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
FULTON - Officers took two suspects into custody after investigating a report of a stolen package in the residential area... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 2:03:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
MONTGOMERY COUNTY - Two people have been arrested and charged in connection with the 2017 death of Benjamin Renick. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 17 2020 Jan 17, 2020 Friday, January 17, 2020 12:03:00 PM CST January 17, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 13°
8am 13°
9am 14°
10am 15°
11am 17°