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Missouri and Ohio Republicans make similar pushes against abortion rights initiatives

Andrew Bailey, newly appointed Missouri Attorney General, gives remarks after being sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, at the Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey was sued by the ACLU after refusing to certify the estimated cost of a proposed amendment that would restore reproductive rights in Missouri.

As pro-choice advocates push for more reproductive rights, Republicans in Missouri and Ohio are undertaking attempts to thwart those efforts.

Once viewed as bellwether states that blew with the political winds, Missouri and Ohio have solidified themselves as red states in the Midwest. Now, Republicans in those states are attempting to quash the efforts of reproductive rights advocates.

Last week, Ohio voters rejected Issue 1, a ballot proposition brought forward by Republicans that would have raised the threshold to amend the Ohio constitution to a 60% majority. That vote was intentionally placed ahead of another vote in November that would enshrine abortion rights into that state's constitution.

Here in Missouri, Republicans lawmakers have tried to take similar steps, according to Berkeley law professor Kathryn Abrams.

"(They) tried to do something similar to what recently transpired in Ohio, and place an issue on the ballot that would have raised the threshold in Missouri as well. They could not agree among themselves about what the appropriate threshold should be and garner sufficient support for that move by the time the legislative session ended," said Abrams.

Despite that, Missouri officials are finding other strategies to prevent the reinstatement of abortion rights. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft sought to summarize the language for voters on an abortion ballot initiative in a way that the ACLU called "argumentative" and "misleading."

Meanwhile, Attorney General Andrew Bailey refused to certify the estimated cost of the proposed amendment. The state auditor said it would cost $51,000, but Bailey argued it would cost closer to $51 billion. The Missouri Supreme Court later upheld the auditor's estimate and criticized the Missouri GOP for using stall tactics.

  • Kathryn Abrams, Herma Hill Kay Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California-Berkeley
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