Gov. Eric Greitens has announced a special legislative session June 12, focusing on protections for pregnancy resource centers and proposals for health and safety standards in abortion clinics.
In his proclamation, Greitens called on legislators to pre-empt local governments from enacting laws that adversely affect legal rights of individuals based on their view of abortion. The move would directly address a St. Louis City ordinance that opponents say discriminates against people and entities that promote pro-life alternatives to abortion.
Enacted in February, the city ordinance provides a protected class status to any woman who chooses to have an abortion and those who support her in that action — while also discriminating against those who promote pro-life alternatives, according to a recent lawsuit filed against the ordinance. The language also creates protections for anyone who has “made a decision related to abortion,” even when the abortion is not their own.
At a press conference June 8 at Our Lady’s Inn, Greitens said his visit was to draw attention to the work of pregnancy care centers. “They take care of pregnant women and their newborn children, providing them with medical care, making sure that these kids get a great start in life, providing them with food, clothing, shelter,” he stated. “Oftentimes they will help women with job training, help them to complete their education.”
Greitens said that pregnancy care centers have recently been under attack, citing examples including the city’s ordinance related to reproductive health decisions and a judge’s recent decision striking down regulations of abortion clinics in Missouri, making it urgent to call for a special session.
“It’s important for us to protect life, to defend life and to promote a culture of life,” he said. “With the special session … we’re going to be protecting our pregnancy care centers and proposing common sense health and safety standards for the people of Missouri. … I have a responsibility to protect life, and I know how important this is, and that’s our priority.”
The session also will address regulations of abortion clinics, including annual safety inspections, making specific plans handling medical complications arising from abortions and interference with emergency responders.
Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis), who sponsored legislation earlier this year that would regulate abortion clinics, said he will be among the legislators seeking to build a new regulatory framework for abortion clinics. In April, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood’s challenge of laws that require abortion doctors to have local hospital privileges and abortion clinics be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is appealing the decision.
Abortion is a surgical procedure that “should be held to the same standards as other surgeries,” he said. “We don’t want a regulatory desert, and we can’t wait until next year to work on that.”
The Missouri Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, was among those who applauded the governor’s call for a special session.
“Protecting conscience rights of people of faith who do not wish to be complicit in the abortion industry is fundamental to our democracy,” said conference executive director Mike Hoey. “It is also vital that clinics performing abortions uphold modern medical safety standards like any other outpatient clinic would. We appreciate the governor’s call for an extraordinary session to bring the legislature back to Jefferson City to debate these important concerns.”
Legislators are expected to begin the session at 4 p.m. June 12.
Pro-life rally in St. Charles
A pro-life rally with Gov. Eric Greitens will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, June 9, at the Heart of St. Charles ballroom, 1410 S 5th St. in St. Charles.