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More than 380,000 Sign Petition to Put Abortion Rights on Missouri Ballot Missourians for Constitutional Freedom said they collected signatures from each of Missouri’s 114 counties and eight congressional districts

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Above image credit: Supporters sign an initiative petition in support of a ballot measure that would legalize abortion up to the point of fetal viability in Missouri. during an event on Feb. 6, 2024, in Kansas City hosted by Missourians for Constitutional Freedom. (Anna Spoerre | Missouri Independent)
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A campaign to enshrine abortion rights in Missouri’s constitution said Friday that it collected more than 380,000 signatures in just three months, more than twice the likely total needed to qualify for this year’s statewide ballot. 

The coalition, called Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, is hoping to put on the November ballot a measure that would legalize abortion up to the point of fetal viability. Since June 2022, nearly every abortion has been illegal in the state with the exception of medical emergencies. 

In order to put a citizen-led constitutional amendment before voters, the campaign had to collect signatures from 8% of voters in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. That total equates to more than 171,000 signatures. 

The campaign on Friday morning announced they officially turned in 380,159 signatures to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. A breakdown of how many signatures came from each district, which will ultimately determine if they met the threshold needed to qualify, was not provided. But the coalition said they collected signatures from each of Missouri’s counties and congressional districts.

“Today is a monumental day for Missouri and for my patients,” Dr. Iman Alsaden, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood Great Plains and advisor to Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, said in a statement Friday. “The success of this campaign sends a clear message: Missourians trust patients to make the health care decisions that are best for their health and wellbeing. Anti-abortion politicians take note: my patients’ lives are not yours to control.”

Iman Alsaden, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, speaks during a signature-gathering event for Missourians for Constitutional Freedom on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Kansas City.
Iman Alsaden, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, speaks during a signature-gathering event for Missourians for Constitutional Freedom on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Kansas City. (Anna Spoerre | Missouri Independent)

The effort kicked off 90 days ago, requiring a massive undertaking to reach the May 5 signature deadline. The coalition is led by Abortion Action Missouri, the ACLU of Missouri and Planned Parenthood affiliates in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Like abortion campaigns that have played out in other states, Missouri’s coalition has been able to raise more than $5 million dollars in donations, including from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a liberal dark money organization based in Washington, D.C., that gave $1 million. Separately, more than 3,200 individual Missourians contributed $1.8 million in the first three months of the year, according to a campaign finance report published last month.

This year, more than 1,800 volunteers from around Missouri helped collect signatures, according to a news release from the coalition. In the three weekends leading up to the deadline, the coalition said volunteers collected 18,000 signatures and knocked on 40,000 doors. 

The initial attempt to place abortion on the ballot began in March 2023. Legal fights over the ballot language and internal disagreements on whether to include a viability ban stalled signature gathering attempts until January. 

The initiative petition language the coalition settled on would allow the legislature to “regulate the provision of abortion after fetal viability provided that under no circumstance shall the government deny, interfere with, delay or otherwise restrict an abortion that in the good faith judgment of a treating health care professional is needed to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant person.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Missourians are now having conversations about abortion and reproductive freedom; some are sharing their own abortion stories for the very first time; and all are ready to do whatever it takes to win at the ballot box this year,” Mallory Schwarz, executive director of Abortion Action Missouri and spokesperson for Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, said in a statement. “Together, we are going to end Missouri’s abortion ban.”  

The abortion petition is among five citizen-led ballot measure campaigns expected to turn truckloads of signatures over to the Secretary of State’s office before 5 p.m. Sunday.

On Thursday, Winning for Missouri Education, which is a coalition of Missouri professional sports franchises, submitted more than 340,000 signatures in the hopes of putting the legalization of sports gambling on the ballot.

A day earlier, more than 210,000 signatures were delivered for a campaign hoping to ask Missouri voters to raise the state’s minimum wage to $13.75 beginning in January 2025 and $15 in 2026.

JoDonn Chaney, a spokesman for the Secretary of State, said it is unlikely signature verification will be finalized in time for any of the ballot measures to land on the August primary. 

Anna Spoerre covers reproductive health care for the Missouri Independent, where this story first appeared. Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

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