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Missouri lawmakers try to strengthen abortion ban

Legislation considered Wednesday in a Missouri state Senate committee would bolster the state’s abortion ban.

Republican Sen. Mike Moon’s measure would add a line to the Missouri Constitution that says: “Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion.”

“Let the voters weigh in on this,” Moon said. “They will confirm with us that life is precious, and it should not be snuffed out prematurely through abortive actions.”

Abortion is already outlawed in Missouri. A law banning the procedure kicked in last year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Since then, abortion-rights advocates have been talking about trying to restore access to abortion via ballot measures, although no proposals have been filed yet.

In Missouri, citizens can amend laws and the Missouri Constitution by going directly to voters through referendums or initiative petitions.

Ballot measures allow voters to sidestep lawmakers, a tool that has previously been used to address policy issues that voters disagree with the Legislature on or politically sticky issues that lawmakers refuse to take up.

Moon's measure would also need voter approval if it's passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature by the end of session in mid-May.

Abortion-rights advocates asked lawmakers to vote down the proposal.

“Here we are explaining again that abortion bans have devastating consequences for the patients and communities being denied this essential care,” said Vanessa Wellbery, vice president of policy and advocacy at Advocates of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

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