In a move that surprises no one, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has threatened to punish local governments that have proposed abortion support funds.
On Friday, Schmitt said local governments that attempt to use taxpayer dollars to support abortion funds could expect a lawsuit from his office, which has sued area school districts, Dr. Fauci and China for the Coronavirus in recent years.
In the seven days since Schmitt outlawed most abortions in Missouri, St. Louis County and St. Louis City have announced plans to form abortion support funds to help Missourians cross state lines to receive abortion care.
St. Louis' Board Bill 61 would use $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan money to create a Reproductive Equity Fund for a broad spectrum of health needs, from doula support to helping patients travel to an abortion clinic.
On Wednesday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said he'd support a county council proposal to use $1 million of COVID-19 relief funds to accomplish a similar goal.
And yesterday, Kansas City Council approved a resolution to help city employees pay for out-of-state abortions.
"Using hard-earned taxpayer dollars, whether it be ARPA funds or other forms of revenue, to fund abortions is plainly illegal under Missouri law," Schmitt said in a statement Friday. "St. Louis City and County, and Kansas City and any others who attempt to authorize taxpayer-funded abortions will be met with a lawsuit from the Missouri Attorney General's Office."
In his statement, Schmitt quoted a state law that bars the use of public funds for performing or assisting abortions. The only problem is, neither St. Louis-area proposal would fund abortions. Rather, the money would go toward incidental costs, such as travel and childcare.
Schmitt further opined on Twitter (which he has also sued), somehow relating gas and food prices to abortion funds.
Working families are struggling to pay for gas & food. They fork over their hard earned money in taxes & now St Louis & KC “leaders” want to spend those hard earned tax dollars on abortions. No way. Any attempt to do so by cities or counties in Missouri will be met with a lawsuit— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 1, 2022
"Working families are struggling to pay for gas and food," Schmitt wrote. "They fork over their hard earned money in taxes and not St. Louis and KC 'leaders' want to spend those hard earned tax dollars on abortions. No way. Any attempt to do so by cities or counties in Missouri will be met with a lawsuit."
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, who spoke in favor of St. Louis' Board Bill 61 this week, called Schmitt's threat "desperate."
"The only thing Eric Schmitt loves more than wasting taxpayer dollars on this Senate campaign is attacking St. Louis families and our fundamental right to make our own private healthcare decisions," Jones said in a statement on Friday.
Though Schmitt's statement must not have come as a surprise to Jones.
On Monday, Jones told reporters she expected the city would be sued if BB 61 passed, though "frivolous threats will not stop our right to protect reproductive healthcare rights and support St. Louis families at every stage of pregnancy," she said.
Less than 30 minutes after Jones bashed the attorney general, Schmitt took to Twitter to have the final word.
"The St. Louis Mayor is an unserious person seeking to score political points at every turn while turning a blind eye to the ceaseless murders plaguing the city," Schmitt tweeted. "Sadly her tenure is synonymous with forced masking, crime, defunding the police and now illegal taxpayer funded abortions."
Work on St. Louis' proposal began long before abortion became banned in Missouri.
The St. Louis mayor is an unserious person seeking to score political points at every turn while turning a blind eye to the ceaseless murders plaguing the city. Sadly her tenure is synonymous with forced masking, crime, defunding the police & now illegal taxpayer funded abortions— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 1, 2022
Board Bill 61, sponsored by Ward 8 Alderwoman Annie Rice, was made with the advisement of community doulas and Pro-Choice Missouri.
In a statement to the RFT, Pro-Choice Missouri officials mirrored Jones' criticism of Schmitt's legal threat, calling his criticism a "performative political stunt."
"Abortion is a basic healthcare, and these proposals are a direct result of identified needs by the members of our community who are most impacted by disparities in both health care quality and access," Pro-Choice Missouri officials said in a statement to the RFT. "Poverty should not be a barrier to access reproductive health care, and we deserve leaders who put people before politics."