Judge Sides with "The Devil" in Missouri Lawsuit over Abortion, Stem-Cell Initiative


A Cole County Circuit Court judge sided this week with Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan in a lawsuit over a ballot initiative that would prohibit the use of public funds for abortion services and stem cell research in Missouri.

The lawsuit, filed in February by Missouri Roundtable for Life, argued that Carnahan's office abused its power by re-writing parts of the ballot initiative it submitted. Carnahan's changes to the wording included using the term "illegal" instead of "unlawful" and adding that the proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit "abortion services, including those necessary to save the life of the mother."

Ed Martin, the former Matt Blunt chief of staff who now represents himself as president of Missouri Roundtable for Life (MRFL), was so infuriated with the ballot change that he reportedly called Carnahan "the devil" during a meeting this month in western Missouri.

And Tuesday's court ruling certainly didn't temper the feelings at Martin's MRFL.

Yesterday the agency issued a press release complaining that Judge Patricia Joyce rubber-stamped Carnahan's abuse of power.
"This ruling is typical of a tyrannical judiciary in bed with elected officials," stated Todd Jones, executive director of MRFL. "Clearly, this judge believes that Robin Carnahan has dictatorial powers to write whatever summary statement she wants to write without any checks and balances."
But in a 12-page ruling, Judge Joyce noted that the law allows the secretary of state to write summary statements for a ballot and that Carnahan acted appropriately.
"The important and only test is whether the language fairly and impartially summarizes the purpose of the measure, so that the voters will not be deceived or misled."
Carnahan yesterday put out a statement of her own, saying:
"I have remained confident throughout this process that the language we wrote for the initiative is an impartial and accurate description of the proposal. Missourians deserve to be able to clearly understand what they are voting on, and I will continue to work to ensure fairness and integrity in all aspects of the elections process.
Missouri Roundtable for Life says it may appeal the verdict. Either way, the group would have to get thousands of signatures from Missourians -- per state law -- prior to the initiative making it onto the ballot in 2010.

The ballot currently reads:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to make it illegal for the legislature or state or local governments to expend, pay, or grant public funds to hospitals or other institutions for abortion services, as defined by the general assembly in section 196.1127, Revised Statutes of Missouri 2003, including those necessary to save the life of the mother?

This proposal could jeopardize federal grants to state and local governmental entities for medical assistance programs. The total costs to state and local governmental entities are unknown.

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