In the latest installment of "Male Politicians Say The Darndest Things About Women's Reproductive Rights," two Missouri lawmakers have joked women seeking abortions would be better off at the zoo than with a doctor. Debate over increasing funds for the St. Louis Zoo took a bizarre turn in Missouri's State Senate on Wednesday when two lawmakers brought abortion into the discussion.
In comments opposing legislation aimed at levying a tax hike in order to increase funding allocated for conservation, infrastructure, and endangered species breeding programs at the St. Louis Zoo, two Republican state lawmakers joked it would be "safer" to send women looking for an abortion to the zoo as it was more regulated than the state's one and only abortion clinic.
"The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year," New York Magazine reported Missouri State Sen. Bob Onder told his colleague, State Sen. Wayne Wallingford on the Senate floor Wednesday. "Maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo, because we know it'll be safer," Sen. Wallingford quipped in response.
Sen. Onder then lamented the fact that he felt the zoo was better regulated than the state abortion clinic because it required a five-day waiting period before euthanizing animals. Missouri currently requires women wait at least three days to get an abortion after first meeting with a doctor.
"Let's think about this. Babies, it's three days," Sen. Onder said. "So although there are members of this body who don't agree with that three days, babies are three days. So zoo animals, it couldn't be more than 24 hours, right?" Sen. Onder speculated. "[It’s] five days, Senator. [And] I believe there's some sort of requirement to notify in case some other zoo wants to adopt that animal," he went on to say. "Isn’t that interesting?"
Sen. Onder said he took fault with increasing taxes after the city of St. Louis passed a non-discrimination ordinance earlier in the year that bans employers and landlords from discriminating against women because they either had an abortion, got pregnant, or use birth control. Onder referred to St. Louis as an "abortion sanctuary city."
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sen. Onder also proposed changing the zoo's name to "The Midwest Abortion Sanctuary City Zoological Park" and the city of St. Louis' tourism motto to, "Where we protect our zoo animals, but it's open season on Alternative to Abortion centers and pro-life organizations."
In a statement issued Thursday Sen. Onder attempted to clarify his comments, saying Wednesday's debate in the State Senate hadn't been about the St. Louis Zoo at all but about "tax increases and abortion sanctuary cities" and that his proposals had been in jest.