Along with instituting stricter regulations for abortion providers, Missouri lawmakers want to make it legal for employers and landlords to discriminate against women who are pregnant, have had an abortion, or use birth control.
The Missouri State Senate approved a bill late Wednesday night that would overturn a St. Louis statute prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment. The local law was only passed in February, adding pregnancy and reproductive health decisions — such as birth control, in vitro fertilization, and abortion — to the list of categories protected from unfair treatment under the city's housing and employment ordinances.
Yep, that means if the Missouri House approves the bill, women could be fired or turned down for a job or housing if the employer or landlord knows they're pregnant, have terminated a pregnancy, or use contraception. (The hypocrisy in punishing women for getting pregnant and for using birth control is unavoidable, but we'll save that discussion for another time).
Missouri Republicans made the decision in an emergency legislative session specifically focused on abortion. The special session was called after a federal judge struck down the state's regulations on abortion providers, which forced clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital (both of which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional regarding a Texas law last summer).
The same bill that would overturn St. Louis' anti-discrimination law also aims to require the state health department to conduct annual surprise inspections of abortion clinics. There's currently only one facility in the whole state providing abortions, but Planned Parenthood announced it would start offering the procedure in four more clinics after the judge's April decision.
"Instead of working on solutions to the real problems Missourians face, Gov. Greitens and his GOP allies are wasting time and taxpayer money to pursue an extreme ideological agenda," said Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, in a statement given to Refinery29. "This has nothing to do with the health and safety of Missourians and everything to do with pleasing an extreme base."