ST. LOUIS – A proposed amendment to St. Louis’ non-discrimination ordinance would threaten religious liberty and would lay “the groundwork for making St. Louis a sanctuary city for abortion,” according to Noah Oldham, elder at August Gate Church here and North American Mission Board SEND City Coordinator for St. Louis.
The proposed amendment, Board Bill 203, would change St. Louis’ anti-discrimination ordinance by placing pregnancy and reproductive health decisions—including the decision to abort a child—alongside already protected classes, such as sex and race. As such, the amended bill would forbid organizations from ending employment—or otherwise discriminating against people—for reasons related to their decision to get an abortion.
Oldham, who attended a Jan. 18th hearing to testify against the bill, said Board Bill 203 could even threaten churches and other pro-life religious organizations that desire to make a positive impact in the city. He spoke individually with St. Louis aldermen and women who were considering the bill, urging them to defend life.
“Are we going to be a sanctuary for all people,” Oldham asked, “regardless of what they believe—but also regardless of their power? Roe v. Wade, 44 years ago, legislated that personhood was based on power: If you don’t have the ability to live on your own outside the womb, then you don’t have the right to be called a person. That’s discrimination. St. Louis needs to be a city that’s a sanctuary for all people, even the unborn.”
Oldham reminded city officials of their “mutual common ground—that is, to serve the people of this city who have needs.”
“And I believe,” he said, “that there is nobody in greater need than women in crisis pregnancies and their unborn children. And I believe that if we would work together—the city officials, the local church … and all the other pro-life (organizations and) crisis pregnancy centers around St. Louis—we could truly care for these mothers, we could keep their consciences clean, we could allow them to give life, we could be a sanctuary city for all … and we could also respect the religious liberty of Christians.”
Oldham told The Pathway that, in the current political landscape, “there really is an open door for fighting abortion in this country”—that is, if prolifers take advantage of this opportunity.
“I believe God, in Scripture, calls us to have a voice for the voiceless and to speak up for those who are oppressed,” he said. “And I believe there is nobody in this world more vulnerable than the unborn child.”