Pro-Life Parties Succeed in Lawsuit Challenging St. Louis “Abortion Sanctuary” Ordinance

The Archdiocese of St. Louis, Our Lady’s Inn, and O’Brien Industries have succeeded in their legal challenge to a recently-passed St. Louis ordinance barring discrimination based upon a person’s “reproductive choices.” The ordinance, which proponents argued will make St. Louis an “abortion sanctuary” because it prohibits discrimination against persons in employment and housing due to their choice to have an abortion or exercise other reproductive rights, was passed by the St. Louis Board of Alderman in early 2017.

The Archdiocese challenged the law on behalf of its elementary schools, because it violates their right to associate only with teachers who share the Church’s teachings respecting life from conception to natural death. Our Lady’s Inn, a St. Louis maternity home, challenged the law, because it undermines their mission of offering housing and employment only to women seeking alternatives to abortion. O’Brien challenged the law because it violates their right to not offer contraception and abortion coverage in health plans they offer their employees. 

Federal district judge Audrey Fleissig ruled that the ordinance as applied to the pro-life parties violates their constitutional rights of association (Archdiocese and Our Lady’s Inn), and their rights under Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (O’Brien). Fleissig ordered that the ordinance be permanently prevented from being applied to the pro-life parties. The Thomas More Society of Chicago provided the legal representation to the pro-life parties. Read more in this press release from the Thomas More Society.