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St. Louis city, county propose using federal COVID funds for people seeking reproductive health care

The APRA funds would not pay for abortions, but would support people seeking an abortion in other ways.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis County is proposing using $1 million in federal COVID funds to support people with logistics when seeking reproductive health care. County Executive Sam Page announced his support of the plan at a news conference Wednesday.

"The US Department of Health and Human Services has identified reducing the national rate of unintended pregnancy as a critical step to improving health," Page said. "Unintended childbearing is associated with smoking and drinking during pregnancy, premature birth, and higher rates of child neglect and maltreatment."

The funds would not pay for abortion services, nor encourage or counsel someone to have an abortion.

Logistical support includes transportation and childcare.

The American Rescue Plan Act infused millions of dollars into municipal governments, but little of the money has been spent nationwide.

"We believe ARPA funds can be used to support transportation or childcare or other type of activity for women who are making a very difficult decision and are going to have a difficult pathway to do it," Page said.

Page said he still intends to improve information and access to reproductive care for people as laid out in a March executive order.

Page held the news conference with St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell and Lauren Nacke, board president, Pro-Choice Missouri.

Bell said he would not prosecute abortion providers in St. Louis County, despite Missouri's ban.

RELATED: Missouri and abortions post-Roe: What you need to know

The City of St. Louis is looking at a similar use of federal COVID funds in Board Bill 61. Alderwoman Annie Rice, put forth the proposal. It passed the Health and Human Service Committee Tuesday with a second reading expected in Thursday's meeting.

City of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said she expects the city to be sued for the Reproductive Equity Fund.

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