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Abortion regulations, St. Louis anti-discrimination law focus of 2nd special legislative session

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

Missouri lawmakers will be returning to the state Capitol for their second special session.
Credit Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio
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Missouri lawmakers will be returning to the state Capitol for their second special session.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement  on Facebook.

He's also holding three rallies on Friday, including one in St. Charles.  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a strong abortion opponent, is joining Greitens at rallies in Springfield and Joplin.

Legislators wrapped up their first special session on May 26, sending Greitens a bill designed to reopen a shutdown aluminum smelting plant and build a new steel plant nearby. It cost taxpayers more than $66,000, according to The Associated Press, which included $47,000 for the House and about $19,000 for the Senate.

For the new special session, Greitens has two aims.  First, he wants legislators to overturn  St. Louis’ revision to its anti-discrimination ordinance, which keeps employers and landlords from discriminating against women who have had abortions or plan to undergo one.   

Two bills were filed during the regular session, which ended May 12, targeting the ordinance. One would have shielded alternative-to-abortion agencies, a measure that passed the House but died in the Senate. The other would have overturned the ordinance by barring any Missouri municipality from declaring itself as a sanctuary city for women seeking abortions; it didn’t even get a hearing.  

Second, Greitens’ special session call also includes portions of an abortion-restriction measure that passed the House but fell short in the Senate. 

It was sponsored in the House by Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton. A near-identical bill was sponsored in the Senate by Republican Bob Onder of St. Charles.

Among the bill’s provisions, highlighted in Greitens’ special-session announcement, are unannounced annual “on-site inspections and investigations’’ of any abortion clinic and an expansion of the information the clinics are to send to the state Health Department about each abortion — including an estimation of how old the “fetal organs and tissue are.”

Onder is a longstanding abortion opponent who’s been asking for special session on these issues. He said he’s concerned about the expected addition of several new abortion clinics in Missouri, which is the result of a federal judge’s ruling in April that tossed out some of the state’s abortion restrictions. The decision was in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that tossed out similar laws in Texas.

Onder lauded Greitens’ decision to call lawmakers back to Jefferson City. "The overreach by an activist federal judge and the Board of Aldermen in the City of St. Louis raises this issue to the need of immediate action by the General Assembly,” Onder said.

But state Sen. Jill Schupp, a Democrat from Creve Coeur, disagreed: "Calling for an expensive emergency legislative session to force bills that will endanger safety and threaten access to reproductive health care is just another example of big government intrusion into the private reproductive health decisions of Missourians."

Follow Marshall and Jo on Twitter: @MarshallGReport, @jmannies

Copyright 2020 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.
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