The city of St. Louis in Missouri is being sued by the state’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, for passing a bill that seeks to offer women funds to travel out-of-state for abortions.
On July 15, the Board of Alderman of St. Louis passed Board Bill 61 (BB61), which sets up a $1.5 million “Reproductive Equity Fund,” with the money coming from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
While $1 million is set aside for abortion access, including meeting expenses like logistics, transportation, and childcare, the remaining $500,000 will be utilized for providing “reproductive health care access,” which includes abortion, according to a July 21 news release from Schmitt’s office.
After Mayor Tishaura Jones, a Democrat, signed BB61 into law, Schmitt filed a lawsuit arguing that the city had violated state laws.
“The City’s use of public funds, public employees, and public facilities to encourage and assist abortion violates the Missouri General Assembly’s determination that the state and all of its political subdivisions are a ‘sanctuary of life’ that protects pregnant women and their unborn children,” the lawsuit argues (pdf).
“The City is a ‘political subdivision’ of the State, and thus it is a ‘sanctuary of life’ that ‘protects pregnant women and their unborn children’ under state law.”
The lawsuit goes on to argue that Section 188.210 makes it unlawful for public employee doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, and health care personnel who act within the scope of public employment to counsel or encourage selective abortion.
By managing the Reproductive Equity Fund under BB61, public employees will be encouraging or assisting abortion, thereby violating Section 188.210.
“My Office today filed suit to put a stop to Mayor Jones and the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s blatantly illegal move to spend Missourians’ hard-earned tax dollars on out-of-state abortions,” Schmidt said in the release.
Abortion in Missouri
The lawsuit comes amid some confusion about the status of abortion in Missouri. The state law outlaws abortions except during medical emergencies or when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger. It isn’t clear which medical conditions would qualify as an emergency.
On July 13, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released a fact sheet (pdf) clarifying that the term “medical emergency” in abortion exemptions would have the meaning as defined in Section 188.015.
The section defines a medical emergency as a condition “based on reasonable medical judgment” in which not performing or delaying an abortion would risk the physical impairment or death of the pregnant woman.
The DHSS fact sheet also makes it clear that the agency is not responsible for determining whether a pregnancy is legal or illegal. Such decisions are left to local law enforcement authorities, local prosecuting attorneys, and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for enforcement.
From The Epoch Times