Greitens calls special session over anti-discrimination measure, abortion regulations

First-year Gov. Eric Greitens called his second special session on Wednesday, ordering lawmakers back to Jefferson City with designs on nullifying a St. Louis ordinance that bars discrimination against women for reproductive health decisions, and on instituting new abortion regulations across the state.

The St. Louis ordinance bans employers and landlords from discriminating against women who use contraceptives, have had an abortion or are pregnant, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It was approved by aldermen and signed by then-Mayor Francis Slay in February.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and other religious groups criticized the measure, saying it would effectively force people who oppose abortion on religious grounds to comply with abortion. Last month, the archdiocese and others filed a federal lawsuit against the city over the ordinance.

Greitens, a Republican, said in a Facebook video announcing the special session that the ordinance threatens pregnancy care centers.

“In the city of St. Louis, some of these pregnancy care centers are under attack,” Greitens said. “There’s a new city law making St. Louis an abortion sanctuary city where pregnancy care centers can’t work the way they’re supposed to.”

As Greitens points out in the video, the Missouri Senate had a bill that would have addressed the St. Louis law during the regular session that ended last month.

Also on Greitens’ agenda for the special session are new regulations for abortion clinics. In his video statement, the governor suggested mandatory annual inspections, improved planning for patients’ health complications and measures to prevent clinics from “interfering with emergency responders.”

“(W)e should have common-sense health and safety standards in all medical facilities,” Greitens said.

The special session will begin Monday.

It follows a special session Greitens called last month to pass legislation allowing the Missouri Public Service Commission to negotiate with Ameren Missouri over lower utility rates for a shuttered smelting plant and a prospective steel mill in southeast Missouri.

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