Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis on Thursday that would stop city officials from using taxpayer-funded resources — like the American Rescue Plan Act — to pay for abortions, including travel expenses and other costs to terminate pregnancies in other 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 said in a statement.
Schmitt’s attempt to sue St. Louis comes off the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic overturning of Roe v. Wade last month, which fundamentally changed the abortion landscape across the nation. Since then, at least eight states have outlawed abortions with little to no exceptions — including Missouri.
The decision has left women who choose to end their child’s life in such states forced to have the operation done elsewhere. However, Missouri’s AG has vowed to ensure Missouri taxpayers wouldn’t spend a dime on the terminations.
Schmitt, who unapologetically fights to uphold the sanctity of life, filed the lawsuit after St. Louis city officials passed the “Reproductive Equity Fund” bill, which authorizes $1.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to fund “logistical support” for abortion.
While signing the bill, CNN reports St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said, “abortion bans hurt the working people who can’t afford child care, a hotel or time off from work because they need access to abortion care.”
However, Schmitt said the bill “clearly” violates Missouri law.
According to the lawsuit, $1 million from the so-called equity fund would cover the costs of childcare, transportation, and other needs for women who seek an abortion. At the same time, Schmitt added that the remaining $500,000 would aid “reproductive healthcare access,” which also evidently includes abortion.
Schmitt argues the bill violates state law 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 argues that state law prohibited public employees such as doctors, nurses, or other health care personnel like social workers or counselors from encouraging or counseling women to abort their unborn child.
“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,’” Schmitt said.
Schmitt warned city officials before signing the bill he would file a lawsuit against the move, but the city’s mayor has stood her ground in using taxpayer money for elective abortions.
“I will not back down when our opponents threaten, bully or demean our city,” the mayor said, according to CNN. “Especially the attorney general, who is more concerned about chasing clout than care.”
Just the News reports, Mayor Jones, said 70 percent of Missourians oppose political interference in abortion access, and legal threats would not stop their fight to protect reproductive health care rights for St. Louis families.