The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state’s ballot initiative to legalize abortion will be allowed to move forward. The decision rejected Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s (R) attempts to block the effort.

The proposal could amend Missouri’s Constitution to protect abortion rights and birth control access. Most abortions are currently outlawed in the state, though there are few exceptions for medical emergencies.

Bailey has been delaying the measure by stalling the approval of the cost estimates, taking beyond the normal amount of time it takes to review and approve ballot initiatives.

Anna Fitz-James brought the suit against Bailey, claiming that he was keeping her from collecting the signatures necessary to place the measure on the ballot for next year’s election.

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“Until the ballot title is certified — a critical step being held up solely by the Attorney General’s unjustified refusal to act — Fitz-James cannot challenge that title in the circuit court or circulate her petitions,” the judges wrote. “Fitz-James’s constitutional right of initiative petition is being obstructed, and the deadline for submitting petitions draws nearer every day.”

Ballot measures to enshrine the right to abortion into state Constitutions have been successful in other conservative territories. Bailey must approve that auditor’s fiscal assessment of the measure so that the amendment can move forward.

Once it is certified, supporters must gather more than 100,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the 2024 ballot.

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