ST. LOUIS (AP) – Some St. Louis Catholics are suing the city over an ordinance that protects women against workplace discrimination based on whether they’ve had an abortion, used contraceptives or are pregnant.
The federal lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of a group of Roman Catholic grade schools; a home for pregnant women; and a private company whose owner is Catholic. It seeks to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance, which opponents say makes St. Louis a sanctuary city for abortion.
“Let me be perfectly clear,” said Archbishop Robert Carlson, standing on the court house steps, “The Archdiocese of St. Louis and its affiliated agencies and ministries will not comply with this ordinance. We have taken this legal action today to defend our religious liberty.”
The law says no employer can fire, discipline or refuse to hire someone based on their “reproductive health decisions” including abortion, using contraceptives, using artificial insemination or getting pregnant out of wedlock. Landlords also can’t refuse to rent to someone based on those criteria.
Meanwhile, the sponsor of the ordinance, Alderwoman Megan Green, says she’s confident the law can withstand a court challenge.
“This lawsuit is frivolous in nature,” Green said, ” I think the folks who have brought it forward, just really a bunch of out-of-town attorneys who sue on this thing constantly, and they’re doing it just because it has the word ‘abortion’ in it.”
Green claims there’s nothing in the law that would require Catholic schools to hire teachers who favor abortion rights; nothing in the bill that would force a landlord to lease to an abortion clinic, and nothing in it that would force employers to cover abortion or contraception in their employee benefits package.