Missouri House Committee Hears Bill Addressing St. Louis “Abortion Sanctuary” Ordinance

Tuesday night in Jefferson City, the Missouri House Committee on Children and Families heard HB 174, sponsored by Tila Hubrecht (R-Dexter), that would protect the first Amendment rights of pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes, and would also preempt the recently enacted St. Louis ordinance that purports to make St. Louis an “abortion sanctuary.”

The effect of the bill would be to preempt the ordinance to the extent it would require individuals, businesses, or religious organizations to participate, either directly or indirectly, in abortion. Passing such a bill would also send a message to other municipalities that may consider similar legislation that any such ordinance would be preempted by state law.

Pro-life witnesses testified about how the new ordinance could impact their ministries and people of faith in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Helen Risse from Our Lady’s Inn in St. Louis, a pregnancy resource center, testified that their mission is to help women facing a crisis pregnancy to make an informed decision. Our Lady’s Inn does not refer women for abortion, but Risse is concerned the new ordinance would require them to hire or prevent them from firing an employee that wanted to refer women for abortion in violation of their mission.

The MCC, along with Karen Nolkemper, the Executive Director of the Archdiocese Respect Life Apostolate, testified in favor of the bill. Jennifer Brinker and Lisa Johnston from the St. Louis Review covered the hearing and provided this story and photographs.