Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Suit Challenges Ordinance Barring Discrimination On Basis of Reproductive Health Services

In February 2017, the St. Louis (MO) Board of Aldermen enacted Ordinance 70459 which added to the city's existing laws against discrimination in employment and housing a prohibition on discrimination "because of ... reproductive health decisions or pregnancy status (including childbirth or a related medical condition)".  Yesterday suit was filed in a Missouri federal district court challenging the Ordinance which the lawsuit says was represented as barring discrimination against those who have had, or are planning to have, an abortion.  The complaint (full text) in Our Lady's Inn v. City of St. Louis, (ED MO, filed 5/22/2017) contends that in fact the Ordinance is much broader, saying in part:
Ordinance 70459 forbids Plaintiffs and others from making adverse employment, housing or realty decisions based on an individual or entity being an abortion activist, advocate or provider....  Thus, the Ordinance forbids Plaintiffs from refusing to sell or rent real property to individuals and corporate organizations that promote or provide abortions....
The complaint alleges that the Ordinance violates the speech and religion clauses of the 1st Amendment,  the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment as well as various provisions of state law.  Thomas More Society issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.