Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is calling legislators back to the state Capitol for a special session which he hopes will stop St. Louis from being “an abortion sanctuary city.”
The special session, which will start on Monday, will address a St. Louis ordinance, Board Bill 203, passed in February which prohibits discrimination based on “reproductive health decisions.” Among other things, the ordinance says that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire women because they have had an abortion.
Gov. Greitens accused politicians of “trying to make it illegal, for example, for pro-life organizations to say that they just want to hire pro-life Missourians.”
Archbishop Robert Carlson of the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement calling the bill a “horrible piece of legislation”:
As a city resident and the leader of the oldest organized religion in the region, I am outraged that the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen has now enshrined into law an ordinance which creates a “sanctuary” for the despicable practice of abortion. In other words, the laws of the City of St. Louis now actively protect and promote the killing of unborn children, children who, like those who denied Dred Scott his humanity, will be denied their humanity and very existence.
By approving Board Bill 203, the City of St. Louis has chosen to continue down a path of promoting death, repression, resentment, division, and selfishness instead of promoting life, unity, charity, freedom, and goodness. This horrible piece of legislation will now force city residents to be unwilling participants in the abortion business by requiring business owners and individuals to tacitly approve any “reproductive health” decisions made by their employees or tenants.
As Catholics, we know that all life is a gift from God and our parents, and must be protected at any cost. Sadly, legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed by the Supreme Court in 1973. Now, some of our St. Louis politicians have made a protected class out of “reproductive health,” which is merely a politically correct euphemism for abortion. If these politicians are concerned about women and children, I challenge them to state so directly and stop hiding behind cheap rhetoric.
Let me be perfectly clear: the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its affiliated agencies and ministries will not comply with Board Bill 203. We will take legal action to defend our religious liberty, and the constitutionally-protected right of religious liberty of businesses, individuals, and other non-faith-based organizations who will be hampered as this oppressive law is imposed upon them.
In the name of faith-based pro-life organizations, like crisis pregnancy centers, the Archdiocese has sued the city because the ordinance forces employers to violate their religious beliefs by hiring people who participate in the very activity their organizations oppose.
Sarah Pitlyk, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, also criticized the law for preventing the archdiocese from hiring only teachers who support Catholic teachings on abortion.
Following his announcement, Missouri Right to Life praised Gov. Greitens for his decision to call the special session in order to block the ordinance:
Missouri Right to Life is pleased that Governor Greitens has seen the urgent need to call a special session of the legislature to pass legislation to protect women, unborn babies as well as the religious liberties of faith communities from all denominations to prevent them from being forced to participate in abortion.
While these bills failed to pass during the regular session, Governor Greitens has stepped forward to bring them back for passage by the pro-life majorities in our House and Senate.
We look forward to working with Governor Greitens and the legislature during this call for a special session to pass pro-life protections for Missouri’s citizens and faith based communities.