The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled against the state attorney general’s position on an abortion ballot initiative, a decision that allows an effort to restore abortion rights there to move forward.

The court ruled that the attorney general, Andrew Bailey, who opposes abortion, improperly withheld his approval of a ballot initiative that would have asked voters whether they wanted to amend the constitution to include a right to abortion. Mr. Bailey, a Republican, disputed the state auditor’s estimate, also a Republican, of how much such a change would cost.

The delay prevented proponents of the initiative from starting to collect signatures to try to put the question on the ballot for next year’s election.

“While today is a huge victory for Missourians and the right to direct democracy, it is clear that some in office will not hesitate to trample on the constitution if it furthers their personal interests and political beliefs,” said Luz María Henríquez, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

A spokesman for Mr. Bailey said the attorney general’s office disagrees “with the court’s decision because we believe Missourians deserve to know how much this amendment will cost the state, but we will respect the court’s order.”

Missouri has one of the strictest abortion bans in the country. The procedure is prohibited in almost all cases beyond medical emergencies. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

The proposed ballot initiative aims to enshrine the right to make decisions about abortion, contraception, childbirth and other matters related to pregnancy in the state Constitution.

Even in conservative states, voters tended to support abortion rights when asked directly on ballot measures.

As part of the procedure for qualifying for the ballot, the proposal was sent to the state auditor, Scott Fitzpatrick, who provided a cost estimate for the proposed initiative.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who opposes abortion, said the proposal would have an estimated cost of at least $51,000 annually in reduced local tax revenue.

Mr. Bailey rejected that analysis, instead saying in a a letter that the bill would most likely cost taxpayers “more than $12 billion” due to fewer births and the loss of Medicaid funding.

Justices of the Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously affirmed the lower court’s decision, writing in their decision that there is no justification for Mr. Bailey’s “refusal to fulfill the simple, unequivocal and ministerial duty to approve these summaries.”

The attorney general has the authority, the ruling said, only to review the “legal content and form” of the auditor’s reports, “not their substance.”

The attorney general must now approve the auditor’s fiscal assessment within 24 hours, or before 1 p.m. on July 21, and the amendment can then move forward. The proposal will then go to the Missouri secretary of state’s office, which is tasked with certifying the fiscal assessment and summary of the proposal that would appear on the ballot.

Lawsuits have has already been registered by the ACLU of Missouri against the secretary of state’s proposed wording for the ballot, which the ACLU says is misleading.

More than 100,000 signatures of voters is needed for the measure to appear on the Missouri ballot next fall, and they must be submitted by early May.

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