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Judge Rules Against Missouri AG in Abortion Inflation Case

A judge ruled that the state’s Attorney General Andrew Bailey did not have the authority to inflate the estimated cost of a ballot measure to restore abortion rights from $0 to $12.5 billion of state funds.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, left, speaks to reporters during a press conference on May 3, 2023. He was joined by Bill Corrigan, right, the state’s deputy attorney general.
(Kacen Bayless/The Kansas City Star/TNS)
A Cole County, Mo., judge on Tuesday ruled that Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey had no authority to inflate the estimated cost of a ballot measure to restore abortion rights.

The 28-page order, filed by Cole County Judge Jon Beetem, requires Bailey, a Republican, to approve a series of identical fiscal notes filed by Republican Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick within 24 hours. The estimates say that the ballot measure would have no cost to the state.

Bailey had rejected Fitzpatrick’s estimates, arguing they should include a projected loss of $12.5 billion in Medicaid dollars, citing as an example Catholic hospitals that could be cut off from Medicaid reimbursements. The figure was pushed by anti-abortion groups. Fitzpatrick said it was inaccurate.

Bailey “has no authority to substitute his own judgment for that of the Auditor regarding the estimated cost of a proposed measure,” Beetem wrote in his ruling.

Bailey’s actions put Fitzpatrick in an “untenable and absurd position,” the judge said.

The standoff between the two statewide Republicans had delayed Missouri in finalizing 11 versions of a state constitutional amendment that would restore abortion rights in Missouri, where the procedure is almost entirely banned. Anna Fitz-James, a retired St. Louis doctor, submitted the proposals in March.

The ongoing dispute prevented supporters from gathering signatures, an arduous, expensive and time-intensive process. The ACLU of Missouri filed suit last month against Bailey, Fitzpatrick and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to force them to finish finalizing the ballot initiative.

“While the court’s decision is welcomed, we know this is only the first stop to give Missourians the opportunity to vote on a proposal that would enshrine access to reproductive health care,” Tori Schafer, the ACLU of Missouri’s director of policy and campaigns, said in a statement.

Bailey spokesperson Madeline Sieren said in an email that the office will appeal the ruling.

Fitzpatrick, in a statement, welcomed the judge’s ruling.

“As someone who is steadfastly pro-life, I am personally opposed to these ballot initiatives and the taking of innocent lives,” he said in a statement. “However, I firmly believe my personal stance cannot and should not impact the duty my office has to provide voters with an unbiased assessment of each measure’s fiscal impact. I appreciate the decision of the court to uphold the process that has been in place for decades so my office can continue to create fiscal notes that are as fair and accurate as possible.”

Once Bailey approves Fitzpatrick’s fiscal note, Ashcroft will be able to certify the ballot title for the 11 initiative petitions.

©2023 The Kansas City Star. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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