ST. LOUIS, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis, Missouri is warning the city council that the archdiocese won't obey a proposed ordinance that would force Catholics to become accomplices in the sin of abortion and contraception.
In a statement Tuesday January 10, Abp. Carlson described the "terrible consequences" Catholic institutions would suffer as a result of the ordinance proposed by the St. Louis city council (called the Board of Alderman).
"[A] Catholic school or Catholic Charities agency could be fined by the City of St. Louis for not employing persons who publicly promote practices such as abortion," the statement declared. "In addition, our Catholic institutions could be fined for not including coverage for abortion in their insurance plans."
The archbishop further noted how the proposed ordinance — Board Bill 203 — would "force the people of St. Louis to be complicit" in procuring abortions. "Board Bill 203 could also allow the City of St. Louis to fine landlords and others who do not want to rent to or be associated with the abortion industry."
Board Bill 203, filed by Alderwoman Megan Green on December 2, seeks to add "persons or entities" who make "reproductive health decisions" favoring abortion and contraception to the city's 2006 anti-discrimination law. The legislation would protect such individuals or groups from so-called discrimination by employers or landlords based on "any decision related to the use or intended use of a particular drug, device or medical service, including the use or intended use of contraception or fertility control or the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy."
Green admitted there wasn't an immediate need for the law as such discrimination did not currently exist but said she introduced the legislation in anticipation of Donald Trump's presidency and because Republicans had been elected to the state congress. "With a Trump presidency and a Republican supermajority in Jefferson City, attacks on women's rights are real," she claimed.
The bill is now pending before the city's Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee. It doesn't provide an exemption for individuals, churches or religious organizations. In his statement, Abp. Carlson called the ordinance a "flagrant violation of religious liberty and individual rights of conscience."
He added that ordinances should give due consideration to everyone. "City ordinances should respect all people, including women facing unplanned pregnancies, unborn children and people who desire to live their lives in accordance with their religious convictions."
Although this type of ordinance is a first for St. Louis, similar proposals have been made in other cities, including Baltimore, Maryland and Austin, Texas. Deacon Sam Lee, a pro-life lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri, noted this type of legislation is a growing problem.
"You see these types of bills, and they take different flavors," he remarked. "It's going to be in relatively few legislatures, but more so in the number of municipalities or local governments where they have more support."
Archbishop Carlson was adamant that Catholics under his care wouldn't cooperate with the proposed ordinance should it become law.
As the shepherd of the faithful Catholics of this region, let me be clear that the archdiocese of St. Louis cannot and will not comply with any ordinance like Board Bill 203 that attempts to force the Church and others to become unwilling participants in the abortion business. There is no room for compromise on such a matter.
Green said she hoped a hearing on the ordinance would be held within two weeks.