Missouri’s Republican Governor Eric Greitens has called a special legislative session to deal with the topic of abortion.
The moves comes just as pro choice groups posted hundreds of placards outside his office, a tactic Greitens himself used during the first special session, when he instructed a group rallying for legislation he favored to plaster placards on office doors of two state Senators.
Greitens released a statement Wednesday afternoon calling for lawmakers to repeal a St. Louis City ant-discrimination law that bars hiring and firing of individuals based on their reproductive health decisions or pregnancy status.
The law has come under fire from the Catholic Archdiocese and anti-abortion pregnancy clinics, who contend it infringes on their religious freedoms.
Greitens said the law makes St. Louis an “abortion sanctuary city”, claiming it restricts pro-life organizations from hiring only pro-life employees. He noted the state Senate had a bill to address the issue during the session, but failed to act.
Governor Greitens also referenced a federal court ruling earlier this year which threw out a Missouri law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals, and for the clinics to be ambulatory surgical centers.
While not offering new legislation to sidestep the federal decision, Greitens proposed mandatory annual safety inspections, and what he called “a fix that will stop abortion clinics from interfering with emergency responders”.
He suggested the clinics are trying to downplay complications where clients have to be transferred to hospitals, saying they “shouldn’t be able to tell an ambulance to come slowly–to not use their lights and sirens–or to go around to the back gate, just because they are worried that an ambulance arriving might make their abortion clinic look bad”.
Greitens’ statement didn’t directly address an abortion measure which passed the House but failed to move in the Senate. It was aimed largely at eliminating the trafficking of fetal tissue.
The legislation from Representative Diane Franklin of Camdenton would have also required annual inspections of clinics that are ambulatory surgical centers.
Greitens has called for the special session to start next Monday, June 12.
Missouri Right to Life harshly criticized the Republican dominated legislature for failing to approve any abortion measures in this year’s regular session. The group lavishly praised the Governor for his action Wednesday.
“Governor Greitens has made a call for special session that would allow legislators to pass a life-saving bill to protect women, unborn babies and reaffirm our religious liberties so that Pregnancy Resource Centers and Faith Communities from all denominations are not forced to participate in abortion” said Susan Klein of Missouri Right to Life. “While these bills failed to pass during the regular session, Governor Greitens has stepped forward to bring them back for passage by the pro-life majorities in our House and Senate.”
The state Democratic party claimed the special session would focus on restricting women’s health care.
“Eric Greitens promised to do things differently, but holding an expensive emergency legislative session to threaten women’s access to health care is not only an unnecessary government intrusion into private sexual and reproductive health decisions, it’s exactly the type of establishment politics that’s driving unprecedented levels of grassroots enthusiasm” said Missouri Democratic Party Chair Stephen Webber.
A special session costs an estimated $22,000 per day for stipends given to lawmakers that can be used toward room and board. They are also paid for mileage. Other staff pay is also included in the projected expenses. Missouri taxpayers foot the bill for a special session.
Written by Alisa Nelson and Jason Taylor