Jones signs bill that supports reproductive equity across St. Louis

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed a bill creating a $1.5 million reproductive equity fund.
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:19 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Thursday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed Board Bill 61, which will provide several methods to support pregnant St. Louisans.

It comes after other leaders in the metro have advocated for and against funding women’s access to abortions outside of Missouri. Last week, the city’s Board of Alderman voted to establish a Reproductive Equity Fund--in which local abortion advocacy organizations will be able to tap into providing travel, child care and other logistical support for women traveling outside Missouri to get an abortion.

“Today, St. Louis is taking decisive action, showing our state - and our entire country - we will not stop fighting to protect access to reproductive healthcare,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “The Reproductive Equity Fund will empower St. Louisans to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their communities, while addressing the disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.”

About $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds will be used to establish grants for abortion travel expenses as well as doula and lactation support for women who continue their pregnancies. One of the biggest concerns posed by the city council was whether Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt would sue the city and tie up ARPA dollars tied to this legislation.

This also became a sticking point during this week’s county council meeting- - where lawmakers took on a similar bill supporting women’s access to out-of-state abortion travel and infant formula assistance. The legislation was set to use $1.25 million in ARPA funds but ultimately failed to receive majority support.

“At the end of the day, this bill is dangerous and likely will certainly lead to litigation,” said Ernie Trakas of the St. Louis County Council. “There is certainly no doubt in my mind about that, but I do believe it’s also blatantly illegal to provide ARPA funds for travel to obtain abortions.”

State leaders are also tackling reproductive health care access with Congresswoman Cori Bush joining Washington and Texas leaders in introducing legislation to establish a federal grant that would also give financial assistance to women now needing to travel out of state for abortion services.