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Initiative petition walking back abortion restrictions seeks approval to circulate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri citizen is already looking to walk back changes made to abortion laws by the General Assembly this session and take future decisions on the topic out of lawmakers’ hands.

Damien Johnson has filed two identical initiative petitions with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office which would undo an anti-abortion bill recently signed into law. The ACLU has already filed a referendum petition seeking to give voters the final say on HB 126.

Petition 2020-67 and Petition 2020-68 seek to add a new section to Article I of the Missouri Constitution.

“The Right of reproductive freedom [and] to terminate a pregnancy shall not be infringed. All abortion restrictions that was passed after January of 2019 shall be nullify [sic]. All abortion restrictions shall originate by a citizens initiative,” the new section would read.

Mark Pedersen also filed a petition altering the voter-approved medical marijuana amendment. Similar versions to Petition 2020-69 have been rejected.

To date, the Secretary of State’s Office has received 69 initiative petitions for the 2020 general election ballot. Of those, 22 have been approved to circulate, three are open to comment, one is closed to comment, nine have been withdrawn, and 34 have been rejected.

Before circulating petitions for signatures, state law requires groups must first have the form of their petition approved by the Secretary of State’s Office. Every proposal received by the Secretary of State’s Office is sent to the Auditor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Office reviews the petition and forwards its comments to the Secretary of State’s Office within 10 days after receiving the proposed petition. The Auditor’s Office prepares a fiscal note and fiscal note summary and forwards it to the Attorney General’s Office within 20 days after receiving the proposed petition.

Comments are taken pursuant to Section 116.334, RSMo. This provision allows Missourians to offer their observations on the submitted proposal online, by mail, or phone. Missourians can provide their comments online.

More about the initiative petition process can be found on Secretary of State’s webpage.

This article is part of a periodic update on the initiative petition process. Other stories in the series can be found here