By Kirstin Palovick, Organizing and Policy Associate, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri
Governor Eric Greitens announced over a month ago a special session targeting the NARAL-backed Reproductive Nondiscrimination Ordinance passed in the City of St. Louis and the protections it provides to women and families in making their reproductive health decisions.
Since the passage of this bill in February, anti-choice legislators have continued their ill-informed assault on the ordinance, attempting to pass bills in Jefferson City that target Missouri women and families instead of further protecting them from discrimination. On July 10, The Missouri Times published a piece by Representative Hannah Kelly in which she further articulates the many misconceptions about the St. Louis ordinance.
Throughout the article, Representative Kelly attacks the ordinance, arguing that it forces religiously-based maternity homes to hire pro-choice activists. This is not true. The purpose of this bill is to protect women from discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, not about protecting individuals based on their beliefs.
The Reproductive Nondiscrimination Ordinance is about protecting women and families from discrimination in employment and housing based on the private, reproductive health decisions that they make. This means that employers must hire someone based on their merit, not for having an abortion. The ordinance makes it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to someone simply for being a single mother. And this ordinance does not allow for an employer or a realtor to use religion as a tool to discriminate against a woman or family for the reproductive choices that they make.
If Governor Greitens wants to continue spending taxpayer dollars on a special session (it is already estimated at $139,000), legislators like Representative Kelly should be talking about the immediate needs of Missouri families, such as expanding Medicaid, lowering the infant and maternal mortality rate and tackling the growth of food insecurity. It is insulting that the Missouri legislature and the governor are continuing their attempt to roll back protections that the St. Louis Board of Aldermen saw fit for their constituents.