St. Louis, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction against the city of St. Louis to halt “taxpayer-funded abortions.”
The lawsuit comes after the St. Louis Board of Alderman earlier this month passed Board Bill 61 to establish a “Reproductive Equity Fund” in response to Missouri’s near-total ban on abortion, which was triggered shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed the bill Thursday to authorize the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to establish grants for out-of-state abortion travel expenses. The lawsuit was immediately filed Thursday afternoon.
“As Attorney General, I’ve tirelessly fought to uphold the sanctity of life in Missouri,” Schmitt said in a press release. “The move by the city of St. Louis to use taxpayer dollars to help push out-of-state abortions plainly and clearly violates Missouri law. My office today filed suit to put a stop to Mayor Jones and the city of St. Louis Board of Alderman’s blatantly illegal move to spend Missourians’ hard-earned tax dollars on out-of-state abortions.”
The bill allows for roughly $1 million in ARPA funds to be used to finance the abortion-related travel expenses, and an additional $500,000 to assist in providing “‘reproductive healthcare access’, which also evidently includes abortion,” Schmitt’s office said.
“The lawsuit argues that the city’s ‘Reproductive Equity Fund’ plainly violates § 188.205, RSMo, which reads, ‘It shall be unlawful for any public funds to be expended for the purpose of performing or assisting an abortion, not necessary to save the life of the mother, or for the purpose of encouraging or counseling a woman to have an abortion not necessary to save her life.”
The lawsuit also notes that Section 188.210 makes it unlawful for any public-employee doctors, nurses or other health care personnel, social workers, counselors, or persons of similar occupation, acting within the scope of public employment, to encourage or counsel elective abortion.
“BB61 requires city employees in its Department of Health to create and manage the Reproductive Equity Fund,” the lawsuit reads. “In managing that fund, public employees will be assisting or encouraging abortion by processing claims for public funds to cover costs incurred in obtaining abortions.”
The move by St. Louis government officials comes after the Kansas City Council voted to enact similar measures late last month.