Council passes abortion support resolution

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The St. Louis County Council voted along party lines June 28 in support of a resolution condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Missouri’s abortion ban law that was triggered by the Supreme Court’s ruling. 

5th District Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood; 2nd District Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, D-Chesterfield; 4th District Councilwoman Shalonda Webb, D-Florissant; and Council Chairwoman Rita Heard Days, D-Bel-Nor; voted in favor of the resolution. Sixth District Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville; 3rd District Councilman Tim Fitch, R-Fenton; and 7th District Councilman Mark Harder; R-Ballwin; were against.

The resolution was sponsored by Days and states the Supreme Court’s ruling as a “curtailment of women’s rights and their status as free and equal citizens.”

The resolution comes days after the court’s ruling June 24 that the U.S. Constitution does not protect an individual’s right to an abortion. Almost immediately following the ruling, Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt said that Missouri’s “trigger law,” passed in 2019, was in effect. The law effectively bans all abortions, including in instances of rape or incest, except in the case of a medical emergency, and makes abortion a felony. Only medical providers who perform abortions would be charged; women seeking abortions would not be charged. 

County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat, also condemned the ruling. In a press conference June 29, Page said that he was in support of a proposal from Clancy and Dunaway that would ask the council to allocate at least $1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to the Department of Public Health to help cover travel costs and other expenses for women seeking abortions. 

“In St. Louis County, we do not prescribe to these dangerous beliefs,” Page said. “I’m going to do all I can to help those who are being left behind by this recent court decision.” 

County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said that his office was not interested in pursuing criminal charges against medical providers who might violate the ban. 

“We have limited resources and prosecutors make decisions every day on how to utilize those resources. Our priority … is violent and serious offenses and offenders and prosecuting those cases,” Bell said. “In a case like this … with respect to abortion providers … there is no public safety concern. There is no public safety issue … This is about protecting our residents, protecting those making a difficult choice and we will use our discretion accordingly.” 

Other lawmakers and elected officials praised the Supreme Court’s decision. 

Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, whose district included Sunset Hills before redistricting this year, released a statement June 24 in support of the ruling. Koenig was the Senate handler of the “trigger law” legislation in 2019. 

“I am proud of the hard work my colleagues and I have done each session to protect life and stand up for the unborn,” Koenig stated. “I believe societies are judged on how they treat their most vulnerable citizens, and I will always fight on behalf of unborn children and their fundamental right to life.” 

Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, also released a statement commending the ruling.  

“This is the day the Pro-Life Generation has fought for, and a day that will go down in history as a landmark victory for life,” Coleman stated.  “The Pro-Life Generation will continue our work to protect the dignity of innocent life in state capitols across the United States and support women and families facing unexpected pregnancies.”