St. Louis joined the growing list of Democratic-run cities seeking to help women access abortions, even in red states that have largely banned the procedure.
Shortly after Democratic Mayor Tishaura Jones signed a measure on Thursday providing $1 million to travel to abortion clinics in other states, Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit in justice to end what he called a “grossly illegal move to spend Missouri taxpayers’ hard-earned money.” on out-of-state abortions.
The give-and-take is emblematic of the battles between cities and states that have been unfolding in the United States since June, when the United States Supreme Court’s decision to quash Roe v. Wade prompted several states, including Missouri, to ban most abortion procedures. Missouri law prohibits abortions except in medical emergencies.
Leaders of Democratic-led local governments in otherwise conservative states have fought back.
Like St. Louis, the city of Cleveland plans to help with logistics costs. Mayor Justin Bibb announced this week that he is working with the City Council on legislation to create a $100,000 “Reproductive Freedom Fund” to help pay for travel and accommodation costs for Cleveland residents. and city workers seeking a legal abortion in another state.
Days after the Supreme Court’s decision, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said the city would reimburse travel expenses for city employees who must leave Ohio for abortions. The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council approved a similar plan, also in June. Schmitt also threatened to sue Kansas City.
City councils in places like Austin, Texas and Nashville have passed measures urging law enforcement not to prioritize abortion ban enforcement, and other cities are weighing proposals similar.
In LouisianaState Bond Commission members voted this week to withhold a $39 million non-cash line of credit for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board’s power plant project to ‘send a message’ to city leaders who said they would not enforce the statewide abortion ban.
Attorney General Jeff Landry had urged the denial of the funding and said in a written statement that the commission “is forcing New Orleans elected officials to decide whether they will apply state law.”
St. Louis law calls for using federal COVID-19 relief money for a “reproductive equity fund.” The funding is part of a larger healthcare package that also provides postpartum support, lactation assistance, doula assistance and money for COVID-19 testing and incentives for vaccination.
Jones told a news conference ahead of the bill’s signing that she expected a trial from Schmitt, who is seeking a GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate in the Aug. 2 primary, and who has filed dozens of lawsuits ranging from efforts to end mask mandates in schools to a lawsuit against China over the coronavirus.
“I will not back down when our adversaries threaten, intimidate or belittle our city, especially the attorney general, who is more concerned with chasing weight than caring,” Jones said.
Schmitt said in a press release that St. Louis’ measure violates state law that makes it “unlawful to spend public funds for the purpose of performing or assisting in an abortion, not necessary to save life.” of the mother, or for the purpose of encouraging or advising a woman to have an abortion not necessary to save her life.
Missouri had only one abortion clinic at the time of the ban, a family planning facility in St. Louis. Two abortion clinics operate in suburban St. Louis, Illinois, and two clinics operate in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.
AP reporters Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, and Geoff Mulvihill in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
Jim Salter, Associated Press