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St. Louis City proposes using pandemic aid to help women obtain abortions out of state

Board Bill 61 would create St. Louis Reproductive Equity Fund

A proposed bill in the City of St. Louis seeks to use federal pandemic funding to help women obtain abortions out of state.

Board Bill 61, filed the same day as the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, would create the St. Louis Reproductive Equity Fund, and allocate $1 million the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to provide grants for transportation, child care and other logistical needs related to obtaining an abortion.

The bill, sponsored by Alderwoman Annie Rice, would direct a total of $3.05 million, and also include COVID-19 testing, vaccination and treatment efforts; as well as pregnancy care providers, such as doulas and health advocates to help navigate medical care.

“Every human being, born and unborn, is precious and deserving of protection,” Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski said in a statement about the proposed bill. “The Church, naturally, opposes any government funding that contributes to the destruction of life and rather seeks to support and affirm pregnant women faced with difficulties so they and their children may thrive.”

Deacon Sam Lee a pro-life lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri noted that Missouri law prohibits the use of public funds to assist with obtaining abortions. State law defines “public funds” as money received or controlled by the state or a political subdivision, which can be derived from “federal, state or local taxes, gifts or grants from any source, public or private, federal grants or payments, or intergovernmental transfers.”

“Part of Board Bill 61 is an attempt to use public funds to assist women in getting abortions when they cross state lines,” Deacon Lee said.

An aldermanic committee advanced the bill on June 28. It now goes to the full Board of Aldermen for consideration.

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