CV NEWS FEED // Pro-abortion activists are debating the best strategic approach for their Missouri abortion ballot initiative to “withstand legal challenges,” appeal to conservative voters, and grant the most “expansive access” to abortion in the pro-life state, according to a report from the Associated Press (AP News).
The main strategy currently under debate among the pro-abortion ballot supporters is “whether to include a provision that would allow the state to regulate abortions after the fetus is viable, a concession supporters of the language say will be needed to persuade voters in the conservative state,” AP News reported on January 16:
Missouri has found itself in the center of the national debate over the issue as abortion-rights groups have split over which of 11 versions of a measure to support for the ballot.
The petitions have been tied up in court for months after being challenged by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.
Mallory Schwarz, Executive director of Abortion Action Missouri said, “We have to consider both what is politically possible and also look at why that is possible in that moment.”
National Campaigns Director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Sarah Standiford echoed Schwarz, highlighting that their strategy “must balance their desire for the most expansive access with proposals that can withstand legal challenges and qualify for the ballot,” AP News reported.
Standiford said this strategy “may ultimately advance a policy that is far short of the ideal.”
Pro-abortion Republican Jamie Corley proposed another pro-abortion ballot initiative that “would allow abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and include exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother until viability,” arguing that those restrictions would be “feasible to pass in Missouri,” AP News reported.
“Pro-life, anti-abortion voters, a lot of them are still OK with legal but limited access,” Corley said.
A similar strategy was used to pass the pro-abortion Issue 1 ballot in Ohio, which enshrined a right to abortion in the state constitution in November of 2023. Although pro-abortion supporters argued that Issue 1 limited abortion access after fetal viability, pro-life advocates heavily criticized Issue 1 for its vague terminology.
The debate is not limited to Missouri, but it has been “especially sharp” in that state, “where dueling strategies have complicated efforts to push ahead with a ballot measure seeking to reinstate the right to abortion,” AP News added.
“The divisions are most acute in Republican-leaning or closely divided states, where some worry that failing to include limits related to viability will sink the measures,” AP News reported.
In Florida, a ballot measure campaign including a viability measure recently reached the requirements for appearing on the upcoming ballot. The group Floridians Protecting Freedom director Lauren Brenzel has led the promotion of the campaign.
AP News reported that Brenzel “said viability has not been a major focus in conversations around ballot measure language in a state that currently bans the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.”
“Viability is the framework that Florida had used until the legislators started passing abortion bans,” Brenzel said. “What we know is that voters understand this, and we see it as clear and concise language that matches with what the standard was in Florida for a long time.”