women's health

Missouri Lawmakers Joke That Women Who Want Abortions Should Get Them at the Zoo

Missouri state senator Bob Onder has a unique sense of humor. Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP

In Missouri, restrictions on abortion providers are so strict that only one clinic in the state can perform abortions: a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. But on the State Senate floor Wednesday, two Republican lawmakers joked that women seeking abortions should go to the St. Louis Zoo because it’s “safer” and more regulated than abortion clinics.

“The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year,” said State Senator Bob Onder to his colleague, State Senator Wayne Wallingford, who added, “Maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo, because we know it’ll be safer.”

Onder then pointed out that zoos have a waiting period of five days before euthanizing animals, whereas Missouri requires women to wait three days after meeting with a doctor to get an abortion.

“Let’s think about this. Babies, it’s three days,” 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?” He went on, “[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. Isn’t that interesting?”

Onder took the floor to oppose a tax hike benefiting the zoo because he’s against a recently enacted ordinance that prevents employers and landlords from discriminating against women who’ve had an abortion, use birth control, or are pregnant (i.e. pretty much every woman ever). Conservative lawmakers are arguing the ordinance “infringes on on the free speech and religious rights of alternatives to abortion agencies or facilities that counsel pregnant women against abortion,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The senator explained the connection between the ordinance and the proposed tax hike benefiting the zoo in a statement posted to Twitter:

Sure, but if you’re going to go with the “senatorial banter” excuse, at least throw in a Quentin Tarantino reference.

Missouri Lawmakers Made a Bad (and False) Abortion Joke