Americans United for Separation of Church and State

05/22/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/22/2024 06:40

Missouri voters should restore reproductive rights this November

This November, residents of Missouri will vote on whether to protect abortion access in their state.

Abortion-rights advocates needed to collect 171,000 signatures to get the matter on the ballot - they turned in twice that number.

Defending reproductive freedom in Missouri

The ballot initiative is part of a multi-faceted campaign to restore abortion access in Missouri. Americans United and its allies are playing a role in those efforts. Last year, Americans United and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) filed a lawsuit in state court arguing that Missouri's draconian abortion ban, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, imposes a narrow religious viewpoint on all Missourians - a theological perspective many of them don't share. We represent 14 faith leaders from seven denominations who are challenging the ban as a violation of church-state separation.

AU also co-leads the Missouri Abortion Access Project (MAAP), educating and encouraging Missourians to fight for abortion rights and religious freedom, which are inseparable.

Rightly alarmed by creeping theocracy, residents of Missouri are fighting back. If the pattern that has played out in other states holds, they'll vote to protect abortion rights.

AU-NWLC lawsuit raises awareness

Activists on the ground say the lawsuit brought by AU & NWLC heightened awareness and helped Missourians realize all that was at stake.

Here's what three of them had to say about the litigation and the role it played in getting this question on the ballot:

The Rev. Holly McKissick, Peace Church United Church of Christ and a plaintiff in the lawsuit: "The lawsuit kept abortion rights in the news - reminding folks that there are religious leaders/communities actively supporting abortion rights. Plus it helped us build a base of

leaders/activists/volunteers that we could pull from when it was time to gather signatures - and it really boosted morale during a tough time. I'm super-thankful for AU and the partners who have been on board leading this!"

Ellen Alper, chief executive officer of National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis: "The attention the lawsuit received and all that you've done helped elevate the issue in our community and broaden the exposure. We certainly saw our lawsuit partners step up as part of the coalition to gather signatures in Missouri. As we move forward in Missouri, I think it will be helpful to provide ongoing updates on the lawsuit as a partner process to the get-out-the-vote campaign. It will only magnify the issue and keep it front and center for our core voters. Can't thank you enough for all you've done!"

Judy Ancel, president, The Cross Border Network: "I think the education you did with us certainly helped me in talking to people about abortion as I was collecting signatures. It also helped that there was a lawsuit pending hitting them from a different angle and giving another argument for the injustice of the bans. I think the more ways we attack this issue the better in terms of building a movement for women's autonomy and protection against overzealous politicians. As the threat of fascism increases, we must use every weapon we have to fight back. Thanks for all you do."

Thanks in part to the AU-NWLC lawsuit and our coalition's organizing efforts in the state, the people of Missouri know the stakes, and they now have it in their power to overturn the state's abortion law, a policy that is controlling, dangerous and steeped in religion.

They should seize that opportunity and restore reproductive freedom in Missouri.

Photo: Activists rally in support of reproductive rights in Missouri