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Missouri Democrat Running for Governor Makes Own Attempt to Get Abortion on the Ballot

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By Kacen Bayless
The Kansas City Star

Columbia, Missouri (The Kansas City Star) — Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade on Thursday announced plans to file a measure that would ask voters in 2024 to restore abortion access in the state, which enacted a near-total ban after last year’s Supreme Court decision. online news

Quade, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2024, said in a news release that the constitutional amendment would enshrine the right to an abortion in the state constitution, “guarantee access to contraceptives, and protect patients and doctors from prosecution.”

“The right to reproductive freedom is more important than ever, as Missouri legislators continue to put women’s lives in danger and threaten to jail patients and doctors for providing care,” said Quade, who hails from Springfield, apparently referring to proposals from Missouri Republicans that would allow murder charges in abortion cases.

“It’s time we put our trust in Missouri families and medical providers to make the best decisions for themselves.”
The proposal would have to be approved by both chambers of the GOP-controlled General Assembly before it could be placed on the ballot.

Andrew Storey, Quade’s campaign spokesperson, told The Kansas City Star that the measure would not specify a certain number of weeks that abortion would be legalized, trusting doctors, women and families to make their own decisions.

Thursday’s announcement comes as two competing coalitions are pushing to get a measure restoring access on the 2024 ballot — but both groups face a tight deadline. One group has filed a more expansive set of proposals but has not settled on one version, while a Republican-led effort is pursuing a plan to restore access up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

Quade’s measure would differ in “a couple ways” from the two competing groups, but the major difference is that lawmakers can vote to put Quade’s proposal on the ballot without having to collect signatures, Storey said.

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The proposal faces a steep climb in the General Assembly, where anti-abortion lawmakers have consistently pushed policies to limit access to the procedure, including the 2019 law that was triggered to enact the near-total ban.

While it’s unclear exactly when Quade plans to file the measure, her announcement comes less than a month before the 2024 legislative session in which abortion rights and access will likely be key issues.

It also comes as abortion rights supporters have cast some doubt on the ability for a citizen-led campaign to meet the deadline to get a measure enshrining the right to an abortion on a statewide ballot. An abortion rights measure could be crucial to Quade’s bid for governor as she’s made abortion rights central to her campaign strategy. Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes announced this week that it was endorsing the Springfield Democrat.

Quade on Thursday criticized the state ban, saying that Missouri was the first state “to strip away the rights of its citizens to make their own health care decisions alongside their families and doctors.” Before the ban, only one clinic in St. Louis offered abortions as anti-abortion activists and officials for years worked to whittle away at access.

She also referenced the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court plans to take up a dispute over access to medication abortion.
The Springfield Democrat faces an uphill battle in the race as Missouri has grown staunchly conservative. Republicans hold every statewide office and a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly.

But while Missouri has moved to the right over the last decade, abortion rights remain popular. Polling conducted last year by Saint Louis University and British pollster YouGov showed that a majority of Missourians were in favor of some level of legal abortion and disagreed with the state’s ban on abortion.

©2023 The Kansas City Star. Visit kansascity.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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