A Republican politician in the Missouri Senate said getting an abortion at the St. Louis Zoo would be “safer” than going to a clinic.
Sen. Bob Onder, who is also an allergy doctor, opposed a tax hike benefitting the St. Louis Zoo earlier this week, partially because the city proposed a bill banning employers and landlords from discriminating against women who have had an abortion, use contraception or are pregnant, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Onder called St. Louis an “abortion sanctuary city” during his lengthy speech on the senate floor last week and took the point further by proposing an amendment to the zoo tax proposal that would change the zoo’s name to “The Midwest Abortion Sanctuary City Zoological Park.”
“It’s beautiful,” Onder said. “Hey, you come to us asking for the tax authorization, we might put some conditions on it, okay?”
Onder suggested that animal care clinics are subject to more regulation than abortion clinics, because “The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year!”
"Maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo, because we know it'll be safer," his Republican colleague Sen. Wayne Wallingford replied.
"You know, it's funny that you say that, Senator. That's another line of questioning I wanted to point out," Onder added before comparing the termination of a human pregnancy to euthanizing zoo animals.
Onder continued, saying the procedure for euthanizing zoo animals is comparable to a woman terminating her pregnancy, and noted that – in his experience as a former medical student – animal centers are so clean that one could eat off the floor.
In Missouri, women must wait three days after meeting with their doctor before being able to go through with an abortion, but Onder said a zoo must wait five days before euthanizing an animal.
"I believe there's some sort of requirement to notify in case some other zoo wants to adopt that animal," Onder said with a laugh. "Isn't that interesting?"
Missouri currently has only one abortion clinic left in the state which is able to function under the state's regulations and Republican legislators are waging a war against Planned Parenthood. A federal court is in the process of overturning TRAP laws that put restrictions – ruled unconstitutional in Texas by the Supreme Court in 2015 – on clinics that provide abortions.
Onder even suggested changing the tourism motto of St. Louis to, “Where we protect our zoo animals, but it’s open season on Alternative to Abortion centers and pro-life organizations.”
On Sunday, Onder defended his comments on a local Fox News talk radio show: "When we're debating on the Senate floor, sometimes we make serious proposals, and sometimes they're tongue-in-cheek to make a point.
"The humorlessness and the lack of appreciation for irony and satire on the left is on full display here."
"Not only has [Onder] 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," advocacy group Progress Missouri said in a statement to the Huffington Post. "His colleague, Senator Wayne Wallingford, also suggested that we send people seeking an abortion 'to the zoo.' Unfortunately, this nonsensical rhetoric is as dangerous as it is disturbing, and there's no place for it in public discourse."