As the world starts feeling more and more like a science fiction dystopia, last week, the Missouri House approved a bill allowing “employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions.”
According to Feministing, a feminist website, the bill, known as SB 5, originated with Missouri governor Eric Greitens when he called a special session seeking to overturn a St. Louis ordinance “that protects women from housing and job discrimination regardless of whether they’ve had an abortion, are pregnant or use birth control.” Greitens has said that the ordinance has turned St. Louis into “an abortion sanctuary city.”
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The Missouri State Senate is now considering the bill, and is expected to pass it. As was written in Newsweek, “This would mean that landlords could refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices, while employers could fire female staff members who were using birth control, or refuse to hire them. And while of course this isn’t information most landlords or employers have access to, under SB 5 they could ask women what forms of reproductive health care they are using.” Republicans on the Missouri House Committee for Children and Families extended the reach of the ordinance by restoring an earlier Senate provision that gives the attorney general “the ability to enforce any abortion law at any time.” As seen on the St. Louis Public Radio website, the committee “also restored a provision making it a crime for an abortion clinic to interfere with emergency medical personnel.” The committee kept the Senate provision requiring “annual, unannounced inspection of abortion clinics.”
Two months ago, a federal judge overturned two Missouri laws that prevented all clinics, save one Planned Parenthood location in St. Louis, from performing abortions. SB 5 appears to seek to override the federal ruling.
Missouri’s NARAL released a statement that called SB 5 “a disgraceful blow to women and families” and singled out Gov. Greitens and his agenda as out of touch with “the needs of hard-working Missourians.”—Cyndi Suarez