Judge Blocks St. Louis From Granting Federal Funds for Abortion Support

Judge Sengheiser's preliminary injunction is a win for the Missouri Attorney General's office

Jul 10, 2023 at 1:12 pm
The Central West End Planned Parenthood.
The Central West End Planned Parenthood.

A St. Louis Circuit Court judge temporarily blocked St. Louis city from granting four organizations federal pandemic relief dollars to support abortion access late last month.

On June 30, Judge Jason Sengheiser issued a preliminary injunction that prevents Midwest Doula Fund, Midwest Access Coalition, Mo Ho Justice Coalition and the St. Louis Doula Project from receiving American Rescue Plan funds through the city’s Reproductive Equity Fund for activities related to supportive services for abortion and abortion doulas. 

It’s all part of a suit former Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed hours after Mayor Tishaura Jones signed a bill to create the Reproductive Equity Fund last July. 

The bill allowed the Department of Health to dispense $1 million in ARPA funds to organizations that provide logistical support, such as travel expenses or funding for childcare, for abortions through the Reproductive Equity Fund. It also allocated $500,000 for doulas and lactation support as well as $1.6 million in funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccine incentives.

Schmitt’s suit argued Board Bill 61 violated state law that prohibited public funds from being used to assist or encourage access to abortions. 

Several progressives on the Board of Aldermen backed the measure, including Board of Aldermen President Megan Green. In a statement on Monday, Green said municipal leaders play “a critical role in mitigating the harm of the abortion access crisis in Missouri” and said she remained committed to “fighting for every St. Louisan’s right to make their own healthcare decisions.” 

Abortion Action Missouri Executive Director Mallory Schwarz vowed the “politically motivated” injunction was not the end. 

“While anti-abortion politicians like AG Bailey use St. Louis families’ livelihoods for political football, the local leaders and advocates of the St. Louis region will continue to use every tool available to support every single person’s bodily autonomy and agency,” Schwarz said in a statement.

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