Editorials

Missouri’s Republicans are afraid of voters on abortion — and everything else

Hundreds protest Missouri abortion ban at Plaza in Kansas City

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Sunday at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City to protest a near-total ban on abortions passed by Missouri lawmakers.
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Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Sunday at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City to protest a near-total ban on abortions passed by Missouri lawmakers.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently threw out two petitions seeking to force a statewide vote on the state’s new and overly restrictive abortion law.

Part of that law contains what’s called an “emergency” clause. That means, among other things, it can’t be placed on a ballot.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit, calling the clause a “sham emergency.” Courts will have to decide if lawmakers really needed to put a part of the abortion law into effect immediately, or if the clause was added simply to prevent a statewide vote.

The answer appears obvious.

Even if Ashcroft prevails, though, Missourians should be worried about repeated efforts to thwart their right to overturn laws by popular vote, or enact laws the same way. From Clean Missouri to right-to-work measures to the minimum wage, Republicans have resisted the voters’ verdicts over and over again.

Ashcroft also has talked about making it harder to amend the state’s constitution. Why are Republicans so afraid of letting the people decide?

Yes, there is an argument that direct democracy is harmful. If they really believe that, Missouri Republicans should repeal the initiative and referendum procedures in the state’s constitution. That would settle the matter. It would also be honest.

Instead, Republicans lawmakers are gaming the system with the aim of shutting voters out.

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