The author of the St. Louis ordinance which prohibits discrimination based of pregnancy decisions says the law will stay in effect regardless of what the state legislature does.
State lawmakers are working on abortion measures which includes overturning the city’s statute. St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green contends anything the legislature passes will have no impact on the ordinance she drafted.
“The piece of legislation that they are trying to pass, that they are saying that is in response to our local nondiscrimination ordinance, it doesn’t actually address our local nondiscrimination ordinance.”
The measure in the legislature bars cities and counties from enacting laws which adversely affect pregnancy centers that oppose abortion, known as “crisis pregnancy centers”.
Green says the St. Louis ordinance has no bearing on those operations. She counters that the legislation just creates lax legislation around the centers.
Thrive St. Louis operates three crisis pregnancy centers and a mobile fleet. President Bridget VanMeans says the St. Louis ordinance, known as Board Bill 203, presents a potential risk to the rights of faith bases organizations. “I believe that this bill is a slippery slope that comes against protecting protected groups” said VanMeans.
The legislature was brought into a special session by GOP Governor Eric Greitens, who wants stronger regulation on abortion after a federal court tossed out two Missouri laws.
When he made his formal call for lawmakers to return to Jefferson City, Greitens claimed the crisis pregnancy centers were being threatened by the ordinance.
” In the city of St. Louis, some of these pregnancy care centers are under attack” Greitens said. “There’s a new city law making St. Louis an abortion sanctuary city—where pregnancy care centers can’t work the way they’re supposed to. Politicians are trying to make it illegal, for example, for pro-life organizations to say that they just want to hire pro-life Missourians.”
Alderwoman Green says nothing in the ordinance has to do with speech, and contends that a person’s right to say whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice is protected in the First Amendment. VanMeans acknowledges that Thrive St. Louis hasn’t been hindered by the ordinance.
Still, she thinks the law was approved with an agenda in mind. “The bill is politically motivated. If you follow the money, as they say, it’s going to take you right to strong allies for Planned Parenthood.”
Thrive St. Louis came under scrutiny earlier this year after it became known the anti-abortion organization was providing sex education to 20,000 students in as many as 75 St. Louis area schools.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported at least one district stopped using the organization’s program while another placed it on hold after parents questioned whether the arrangement was appropriate.
Republican lawmakers, who are crafting the abortion legislation, say the finished product will repeal the St. Louis ordinance. Green thinks all their efforts will prove futile.
“They’re passing laws that either “a”, will not be held up by the Supreme Court and will get struck down…or “b”, don’t actually do anything to impact our local nondiscrimination ordinance.”