Missouri AG Sues City of St. Louis for Funding Women’s Out-of-State Abortion Expenses

By Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
July 24, 2022 Updated: July 26, 2022

The city of St. Louis is being sued by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, for approving a measure that would offer women funds to travel out of state for abortions.

On July 15, the city’s Board of Aldermen 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 providing logistical support such as transportation and child care, the remaining $500,000 will be utilized for providing “reproductive healthcare access,” which includes abortion, according to a July 21 statement 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 states (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 other health care personnel who act “within the scope of public employment, to encourage elective abortion.”

By managing the Reproductive Equity Fund under BB61, public employees will be encouraging or assisting abortion, thereby violating Section 188.210, the lawsuit states.

“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,” Schmitt’s statement reads.

Abortion in Missouri

The lawsuit comes amid some confusion about the status of abortion in Missouri. The state 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 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.

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 clear that the agency isn’t responsible for determining whether a pregnancy is legal or illegal. Such decisions, it says, “are left to local law enforcement authorities, local prosecuting attorneys, and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for enforcement.”

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.