Gathered around picnic benches outside of a local St. Louis brewery, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and American Civil Liberties Union hosted the Pro-Choice Power Hour on July 9. To organize a referendum to repeal House Bill 126, Missouri’s ban of abortions after unborn babies reach eight weeks of gestation, the ACLU hosted the event to recruit volunteers to collect more than 100,000 signatures. The event hosted Sarah Baker, the legislative and policy director from the ACLU.
In addition to expressing disdain towards Missouri’s “heartbeat” bill, Baker ranted about Missouri’s so-called “trap laws,” such as parental consent for minors seeking abortions, the requirement of having two physicians present for the procedure, and a 72-hour waiting period.
“You already have to sign paperwork that says you are killing another human being. It is insulting to get an abortion in Missouri. And do you want to know why it is insulting? It is because I am a person who has value. Because each of you has autonomy and personal liberty. And that is what the state is assaulting today.” Baker said, ignoring the autonomy and personal liberty claims of the unborn.
House Bill 126 was signed by Gov. Mike Parson on May 24. Four days later, the ACLU filed a referendum petition. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft rejected the application due to an emergency clause in the bill. The emergency clause of House Bill 126 required both parents to be notified of a minor’s abortion.
Accusing Ashcroft of “illegally assert[ing] himself into the referendum” and “obstructing the people’s right to the referendum,” the ACLU sued Ashcroft and won on July 8. The court ordered for Ashcroft to approve a sample petition within 15 days. Until then, the ACLU will not be able to collect signatures.
“Secretary Ashcroft could approve this ballot language tomorrow. Ashcroft could clear us for signatures tomorrow. But he is not going to do that because he is part of the race to ban abortion in Missouri,” Baker said.
With House Bill 126 not going into effect until August 28, the ACLU must collect signatures from 5 percent of constituents within each congressional district who voted in the last gubernatorial election. This is approximately 117,000 signatures. To meet their goal, Baker expresses plans of attending major festivals and designated areas for people to sign up.
“I would love to see people acting like Ireland,” Baker said. Ireland recently overturned its national abortion ban after heavy politicking. “People flying home. That is the momentum we have here. We just have to channel it correcting. We need to give them the opportunity to stand up to say what they value.”
With the bill’s passage by 110 votes in favor and 44 opposed in the Missouri Senate, it is quite clear that the majority of constituents who participate in Missouri’s electoral process value the dignity and rights of the unborn by voting for state senators who share their values.
While Baker and the rest of the pro-abortion crowd may be preparing to fight for increased abortion, their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Students for Life Regional Coordinator Jacinta Florence attended the event, recognizing the need to rally the pro-life community to combat the referendum.
“The other side is fighting hard and…they are strategic and just as passionate as we are,” she said. “I think that we need to band together more than ever in Missouri to be the first state to end abortion.
“That being said, there efforts to overturn this bill are threatening to the well-being of the unborn in our state,” Florence said. “We need to fight in response to this. We cannot be silent anymore. We need to use our voices and resources to stand up for life. Praying and fasting is also really going to win this battle for life. That’s what we need to do.”