JEFFERSON CITY − If constitutional changes made public Thursday make it to the 2024 ballot, Missouri voters could determine whether to reinstate abortion rights in the state.
Eleven versions of a proposed initiative petition were filed by a St. Louis doctor on behalf of a political action committee called Missourians for Constitutional Freedom. The proposal aims to repeal Missouri's abortion ban by adding abortion protections to the state Constitution.
Currently, most abortions are outlawed in the state, with exceptions for medical emergencies but not for instances of rape or incest.
Rev. Molly Housh Gordon serves as a minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia. Gordon is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state of Missouri that is based on constitutional grounds.
"The Missouri abortion ban enshrines one religious perspective in law, in a way that violates are constitutionally-protected separation of church and state," Gordon said.
The proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution would safeguard abortion rights and pregnant women, as well as access to birth control.
There are key differences on topics addressed between the 11 different proposals. Though, each version of the initiative says there must be a "compelling governmental interest" for abortion bans to be placed.
"I'm really clear that the abortion ban is already against the current state constitution of Missouri," Gordon said.
Meanwhile, in light of more abortion news in the state, Missouri is among 20 states where Walgreens will not distribute abortion pills.
After a letter from GOP attorney generals, Walgreens surrendered stating it would not administer mifepristone, the first of two medications used in the medication abortion procedure.
Other efforts by advocates to keep Missouri's ban on the procedure include Missouri Right to Life. The nonprofit organization argues they will prepare to beat the challenge of threats to legalize abortion.
Susan Klein, executive director of Missouri Right to Life, responded to the announcement of the constitutional amendment proposal in a press release.
"Missouri is a pro-life state and we must ensure every Missourian, born and unborn, is protected and every voice is heard when considering change to our constitution," Klein said.
Though KOMU 8 News spoke with Americans United for Separation of Church and State which gave a differing view on abortion.
Americans United (AU) for Separation of Church and State got together with the National Women's Law Center where leaders in religious freedom and women's rights brought a lawsuit to the state of Missouri on behalf of 13 Missouri clergy members.
The organizations challenged the state's abortion bans under the state's promise of church and state separation and religious freedom for all.
"Abortion bans violate our freedom," Rachel Laser, president and CEO of AU said. "They take away our religious freedom by imposing one narrow religious viewpoint on everyone."
Abortion-rights advocates like AU argue that lawmakers publicly cited their religious beliefs when writing the bill, and therefore forced such values to people who don't share them.
"Often times state legislators are out of step with where the people are," Laser said. "We're seeing Missourians rise up and say no, you cannot go back on these core promises that are so essential to our state."