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Effort to repeal Missouri 8-week abortion ban hits roadblock

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 6 June 2019
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Efforts to repeal Missouri's new eight-week abortion ban with a public vote hit a roadblock Thursday, the latest development in a fight over abortion rights that's playing out on multiple fronts in the state.

Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft told reporters that the Missouri Constitution prohibits a referendum on the sweeping abortion law because of what's known as an "emergency clause" included in it.

Most new laws in Missouri automatically take effect on Aug. 28 of each year, as the ban on abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy will. The law includes an exception only for medical emergencies, not rape or incest.

The Republican-led Legislature, though, voted to make a section of the bill that changed parental consent laws for minors seeking abortions take effect as soon as Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed it into law.

Ashcroft, the state's top election official, said that effectively blocks any effort to repeal the law through a public vote. He cited a provision in the constitution that prohibits referendums on "laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety."

The law's emergency clause states that enacting the parental-consent portion is vital "because of the need to protect the health and safety of women and their children, both unborn and born."

The new law requires a parent or guardian giving written consent for a minor to get an abortion to first notify the other custodial parent, unless the other parent has been convicted of a violent or sexual crime, is subject to a protection order or is "habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition."

Shortly after Parson signed the bill last month, the ACLU of Missouri filed the referendum petition to try to force a vote on the law in 2020.

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News video: Missouri Secretary of State Blocks 'Heartbeat' Abortion Law Referendum

Missouri Secretary of State Blocks 'Heartbeat' Abortion Law Referendum 00:32

According to Reuters, a move to authorize a referendum over Missouri’s recently enacted ban on abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy hit a roadblock, when the secretary of state rejected petitions filed by the ACLU. The rejection of the petitions was immediately challenged by abortion rights...

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