Abortion in Missouri: A look at key claims in the 'decline to sign' effort

Alyse Pfeil, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Political News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With two weeks left for advocates to gather enough signatures to put abortion-rights on the Missouri ballot this year, opponents are urging people not to sign the petition, saying the proposed constitutional amendment would allow for a radical and unregulated expansion of the procedure.

Among the opponents' claims: the constitutional amendment, if approved by voters, would eliminate health and safety standards for abortion clinics, allow people to perform the procedure without a health care license, bar malpractice lawsuits against abortion providers, allow minors to get abortions without parental consent, and permit abortions after fetal viability.

Those claims — disputed by supporters of the amendment and legal experts — are being widely circulated by some anti-abortion groups.

Top Republican lawmakers, including the three leading GOP candidates for governor, have appeared in a series of "decline to sign" videos, sponsored by Missouri Stands with Women, a political action committee launched this year to fight any abortion-rights initiative petitions.

Missouri Right to Life, an affiliate of National Right to Life, has produced "decline to sign" literature, including flyers listing 10 reasons to oppose the proposed amendment.

Coalition Life, another anti-abortion group, is running radio ads warning listeners to "think twice" before signing.


And Missouri's Roman Catholic bishops have issued their own statement urging against signing the petition, saying the amendment would remove long-standing health and safety standards for women.

Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, the well-financed coalition working to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, says anti-abortion groups are spreading misinformation.

"It's no surprise that the other side is spreading untruth, and that's because their position is so deeply unpopular," said Tori Schafer, spokeswoman for Missourians for Constitutional Freedom.

Since January, the coalition has held dozens of events across the state to gather the thousands of signatures required for the abortion-rights ballot question.


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