Missouri AG Sues St. Louis Over Reproductive Equity Fund
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing the City of St. Louis for its Reproductive Equity Fund, which Mayor Tishaura Jones signed into law last week.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen recently passed the bill to establish a Reproductive Equity Fund using money from the American Rescue Plan.
It would support women at all stages of pregnancy - including postpartum and lactation support, doula assistance, and access to abortion through logistical help.
Alderwoman Megan Green of Ward 15 said even though abortion is now illegal in Missouri, Missouri women will not stop seeking abortions. And she said municipalities have to step in now to support their constituents.
"I think we have to be clear that this fund does not fund actual abortions," said Green. "What it does do is provide funding for logistical support. So that could be transportation, staying in a hotel or child care - basically those things that you need if you now have to travel for those services."
Green noted that abortion care is a vital part of overall health care - especially given the high maternal mortality rates Missouri faces, notably Black and brown women.
In the lawsuit, AG Schmitt - who is running for U.S. Senate - said the use of city funds to support people seeking abortions violates state law.
Alderwoman Annie Rice of Ward 8 sponsored the Board Bill. She said in addition to preventing people who would choose an abortion from doing so in Missouri, the state's ban is unclear about the definition of abortion, and the definition of an emergency to save the mother's life.
"There are people with ectopic pregnancies that are looking for abortion care services outside of the state of Missouri," said Rice. "There are people with wanted pregnancies that are miscarrying that are looking for care outside the state of Missouri."
Rice added that American Rescue Plan funds are meant to help communities recover from the COVID pandemic, and COVID drastically limited people's access to reproductive health care in Missouri - especially since Missouri already had some of the most restrictive laws surrounding abortion.
When the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision came down and the abortion ban was enacted, only one abortion clinic was active in the state.
Missouri News Service is a partner of KRCU Public Radio.