A Missouri appeals court has ruled against anti-abortion ballot language put forth by a Republican Secretary of State. Here’s the full story.
Lying to Voters
A Missouri appeals court has taken serious issue with the way Republican-written summaries of abortion-rights ballot measures were described.
The court ruled that the language used in these summaries was politically biased and lacked impartiality.
Playing to the Base
The case revolved around ballot summaries created by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who also has his eye on the governor’s seat in 2024.
Ballot summaries play a crucial role in helping voters understand complex constitutional amendments and policy changes, especially those related to abortion.
Ashcroft’s initial descriptions of the proposed amendments were explosive and demonstrably false.
They framed the amendments as permitting “dangerous, unregulated, and unrestricted abortions, from conception to live birth, without requiring a medical license or potentially being subject to medical malpractice.”
Not Going to Happen
However, the appeals court panel expressed concerns about the accuracy of this portrayal, stating that allowing unrestricted abortion “during all nine months of pregnancy is not a probable effect of initiatives.”
Consequently, they largely upheld summaries that had been rewritten by a lower court judge to be more objective.
The revised summaries approved by the appeals court provide a more coherent perspective.
They inform voters that the amendments would “establish a right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives” and “remove Missouri’s ban on abortion.”
No Backing Down
Secretary of State Ashcroft intends to appeal the court’s ruling, asserting, “We stand by our language and believe it fairly and accurately reflects the scope and magnitude of each petition.”
Knocked From the Ladder
This court decision has been welcomed by abortion rights advocates, who view it as a victory for Missourians’ right to direct democracy.
The ACLU of Missouri celebrated the ruling, stating, “Today, the courts upheld Missourians’ constitutional right to direct democracy over the self-serving attacks of politicians desperately seeking to climb the political ladder.”
There’s a Surprise
Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office is supporting Ashcroft’s summary language in court, while abortion rights supporters believe that the court has struck down misleading and stigmatizing language.
It’s Roe v. Wade Again
Missouri is one of several states grappling with issues related to abortion access following the significant changes brought about by the fall of Roe v. Wade last year.
Ensuring Reproductive Rights
Ohio, another such state, recently put a measure on the November ballot to ensure abortion access after overcoming legal challenges from opponents.
Ohio’s voters in August rejected a measure that would have made it harder to amend the state constitution in the future, a move supported by abortion opponents.
Efforts to either protect or expand abortion access are underway in several states, including Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and South Dakota, while other states, like Iowa, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania, are pushing for restrictions. Colorado is witnessing efforts for both pro-choice and pro-life measures.
On the Right Side of History
In previous elections, voters have consistently favored the side supported by abortion rights advocates in states with abortion-related ballot measures.
Support for Abortion Rights
A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that most voters, even in states with strict abortion bans, believe that abortion should be legal early in pregnancy.
The poll also revealed that most voters support certain limitations on abortion.
The news of the legal challenge to the questionable wording of the abortion rights ballot measure was met online by celebration from commenters.
One such post read, “Once again, Republicans proving they cannot win unless they lie, cheat, steal, fraud or gerrymander votes.”
Not Holding Back
Others were more scathing with their criticism, with one poster commenting, “An engineer/lawyer that knows medical care yet doesn’t have an MD license.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not tactual people featured in the story.