Two Republican Missouri lawmakers seeking to further restrict abortion in the state have come under fire after suggesting on the Senate floor Wednesday that women seeking to have an abortion would be better off “going to the zoo” than to a doctor because “there is a longer waiting period for euthanizing zoo animals.”
Speaking in opposition to a tax hike benefitting the St. Louis Zoo, State Senator Bob Onder (R) said he opposes the city’s proposed ban on employers and landlords from discriminating against women for their reproductive choices, the Huffington Post reported.
Onder, who authored a bill targeting abortion clinics, lamented ― falsely ― that zoos are more heavily regulated than abortion clinics in Missouri. He even suggested changing the tourism motto of St. Louis to say, “Where we protect our zoo animals, but it’s open season on Alternative to Abortion centers and pro-life organizations.” Then he took the apparent joke a step further, drafting an amendment that would rename the St. Louis Zoo the “Midwest Abortion Sanctuary City Zoological Park.”
“The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year!” Onder said.
“Maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo, because we know it’ll be safer,” state Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R) added.
Onder argued that zoos have a five-day waiting period for euthanizing animals, while abortion clinics in Missouri require women to wait three days after meeting with their doctors before having the procedure.
“Let’s think about this,” Onder said. “Babies, it’s three days, 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?”
“Five days, Senator,” he continued. He added: “I believe there’s some sort of requirement to notify in case some other zoo wants to adopt that animal. Isn’t that interesting?”
Abortion clinics are so heavily regulated in Missouri that only one facility in the state can perform abortions. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that a federal judge intends to block a pair of laws requiring that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, or mini-hospitals, and that their doctors have admitting privileges at hospitals, because the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that those laws are intended to shut down clinics rather than to make them safer.
The advocacy group Progress Missouri released a statement denouncing Onder’s “drivel and lies.”
“Not only has he compared women to giraffes and zoo animals, but he has invoked the Holocaust and genocide in reference to a woman’s right to an abortion,” Progress Missouri said. “This nonsensical rhetoric is as dangerous as it is disturbing, and there’s no place for it in public discourse,” the statement added.
Onder later explained his rant in a Twitter post and clarified that he “never intended to offer” his draft amendment renaming the zoo.