Despite Pathetic Efforts From Anti-Abortion Groups, Missouri Submits Almost 400,000 Signatures for Ballot Measure

On Friday, abortion rights organizers in Missouri submitted more than double the number of signatures they needed to get their abortion rights ballot measure on the November ballot. 

Despite Pathetic Efforts From Anti-Abortion Groups, Missouri Submits Almost 400,000 Signatures for Ballot Measure
People in Missouri protest the state’s eight-week abortion ban in May 2019. Missouri has since passed a total abortion ban. Photo: Shutterstock

On Friday, after months and months of laughable barriers, Missouri abortion rights organizers submitted 380,000 signatures in a major step toward getting an abortion rights measure on the November ballot. 380,000 is over double the 172,000 signatures required by May 5 (Sunday), though the secretary of state’s office will still have to validate them.

“This milestone for the Missourians for Constitutional Freedom campaign means that voters are one step closer to being able to use the ballot measure process to secure their rights this November, and we are excited to be standing with them in that fight,” Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, said in a statement shared with Jezebel. The Fairness Project has been working with the Missourians for Constitutional Freedom campaign to collect signatures and educate Missourians about the effort to establish a right to abortion in the state’s Constitution.

Mallory Schwarz, executive director of Abortion Action Missouri and spokesperson for Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, also celebrated that “hundreds of thousands of Missourians are now having conversations about abortion and reproductive freedom” in a statement. “Some are sharing their own abortion stories for the very first time,” Schwarz said, “and all are ready to do whatever it takes to win at the ballot box this year. Together, we are going to end Missouri’s abortion ban.” Since 2022, abortion has been totally banned in Missouri with only very narrow emergency exceptions.

According to Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, more than 3,200 Missourians contributed $1.8 million to the ballot measure campaign this year. More than 1,800 volunteers with the campaign helped collect signatures across the state, and in the last three weekends alone, knocked on 40,000 doors, the group says.

This major milestone in an uphill battle comes after Republican officials in the state spent the better part of last summer and most of the fall fighting to stop abortion rights organizers from collecting signatures. First, in September, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) obstructed the measure by pushing the baseless claim that it would cost upwards of $12 billion to put it on the ballot because a right to abortion would decimate the workforce and tank the state’s economy. Then, the state’s Republican secretary of state, Jay Ashcroft, wrote a summary of the proposed measure, baselessly lying that it would allow abortion “up until birth.”

Due to the ongoing legal back-and-forth over the measure and its language, abortion rights organizers were delayed for months and weren’t able to begin collecting signatures until February. Even then, the process of collecting signatures came with its own challenges thanks to anti-abortion groups aggressively pushing disinformation. Local outlets reported earlier this week that a coalition of groups in the state was sending text blasts to voters, lying that abortion rights organizers were trying to steal their “personal data” and subject them to “fraud & theft” by asking for their names, signatures, and voter registration addresses—all publicly available information. (This, of course, all while anti-abortion groups notoriously use underhanded methods to track and store abortion seekers’ private medical data.)

“These text messages are not only false but a blatant attempt to sow fear and confusion among voters,” Tori Schafer, a spokesperson for Missouri Constitutional Freedom, told Jezebel on Wednesday.

Well, in any case, it looks like anti-abortion groups’ deceitful methods failed them. Even in a deep-red state like Missouri, where collecting 172,000 signatures—the minimum requirement—sounded like a challenge, there’s clearly a groundswell of support for abortion rights, enough that close to 400,000 voters (again that’s more than double the requirement!) would make the effort to sign on in support of the ballot measure.

Also this week, abortion rights organizers in South Dakota submitted almost double the number of signatures required for their proposed abortion rights measure to qualify for the ballot. And in April, organizers in Arizona said they’d collected over 500,000 signatures (of the 383,923 Arizona requires) for their abortion rights ballot measure.

Moving forward, Missouri’s signatures will have to be verified, and GOP officials and anti-abortion groups will inevitably fight tooth and nail against it. But, as demonstrated by the success of abortion rights ballot measures in other states over the last two years, abortion bans are deeply unpopular—that’s why anti-abortion politicians and groups are fighting these measures this hard.

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