Last month, Missouri’s governor, Mike Parson, signed pro-life legislation, Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, a bill also known as House Bill 126, prohibiting abortions after 8 weeks with exceptions for risking the life of the mother. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a petition for a referendum which was denied by Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft, on the grounds that an emergency clause in the bill which went immediately into effect with the governor’s signature would make a referendum in this case contrary to the Missouri State Constitution. The clause states that both parents of minors seeking abortions need to be notified. The rest of the bill is set to pass on August 28.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against Ashcroft, claiming that the clause does not constitute an emergency since, as it already stood, at least one parent had to be notified, and the people should have their right to a referendum. Ashcroft’s response was that “the court clearly states the determination about whether or not an emergency clause is proper or not is a matter for the courts.” He says that the point remains that any bill with a provision in it that has already been passed precludes the bill from going to a referendum. The ACLU contends that the only reason the clause was included was to preempt a referendum.
A spokesperson from the ACLU said that refusing to allow the referendum proves that those in favor of the bill know they’re acting against the wishes of the majority, and that is why they don’t want it to go to a referendum. Republican House Speaker, Elijah Haahr, was grateful the Governor signed the bill because he said it reflects the values of the majority of the state’s population.
As it stands now, Missouri has only one abortion clinic located in St. Louis. If the law goes into effect on August 28th, any doctor performing an abortion could face up to 15 years in prison, though there is no stipulation that the woman receiving the abortion would be prosecuted.