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Jan. 18, 2024Jefferson City, Mo. |  By: AP

Missouri abortion-rights campaign backs proposal to enshrine access but allow late-term restrictions


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri abortion-rights campaign announced Thursday that it’s throwing support behind an amendment that would enshrine access to the procedure in the state constitution while allowing restrictions in later stages of pregnancy.

Missourians for Constitutional Freedom said it is committing to a proposal, one of 11 versions, that would let lawmakers regulate or ban abortion after what’s called viability, with an exception for the protection of the life and physical and mental health of the woman.

Supporters include the ACLU of Missouri, local Planned Parenthood affiliates and Abortion Action Missouri.

“Missouri’s cruel and restrictive ban on abortion is tying the hands of doctors and preventing necessary care,” said Dr. Iman Alsaden, an adviser to Missourians for Constitutional Freedom and chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, in a statement. “Today, Missourians are taking a critical step to make their own medical decisions and kick politicians out of the exam room.”

The campaign faces steep opposition in its bid to get the proposal on November’s ballot, with the petitions tied up in court for months after being challenged by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. A campaign launched Tuesday seeking to quash any initiative petition to bring abortion back to the state.

And Missourians for Constitutional Freedom has funding difficulties, ending 2023 with no money in the bank.

Also complicating the effort is a competing ballot measure by a Republican that would allow abortion up to 12 weeks, and after that only in cases of rape, incest and in medical emergencies up until fetal viability.

Missourians for Constitutional Freedom’s announcement comes as abortion activists nationwide are divided over whether to support constitutional amendments that allow any regulation of abortion after viability.

The term is used by health care providers to describe whether a pregnancy is expected to continue developing normally or whether a fetus might survive outside the uterus. It’s generally considered to be around 23 or 24 weeks into pregnancy but has shifted earlier with medical advances. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes viability language in legislation or regulations.

The decision by Missourians for Constitutional Freedom acknowledges concerns by some that a more expansive proposal would fail to pass in the state, which was among the first to outlaw almost all abortions after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Current Missouri law includes an exception for medical emergencies, but not in cases of rape and incest.