Republican lawmaker jokes that women should get abortions at the zoo

Two Republican lawmakers caused a stir on Wednesday after they suggested on the Senate floor that women would be better off going to the zoo than a doctor's office for an abortion.

The bizarre comment arose during a debate over whether the St. Louis Zoo should receive more tax money to put towards conservation, infrastructure and breeding programs for endangered species, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Republican State Senator Bob Onder linked the proposed bill to an ordinance that St. Louis passed in February, which banned employers and landlords from discriminating against women who have had an abortion, are pregnant or use birth control.

The politician says he is wary of supporting a tax raise on residents in counties surrounding St. Louis when the city has made itself what he refers to as an "abortion sanctuary city."

Onder then went on a tangent about how since zoos are more regulated than abortion clinics, it would be safer for women to get abortions there than at a real clinic.

"The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year," Onder said to state Senator Wayne Wallingford, who replied, "maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo, because we know it'll be safer."

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2016 issues: Abortion, pro-life vs pro-choice
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Girl holds up hand-lettered sign in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
AKRON, OH- SEPTEMBER 8: Donald Wilson, 64, protests against abortion in front of the Planned Parenthood Health Center on September 8, 2015 in Akron, OH. (Photo by Mary F. Calvert For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
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A pro-choice activists holds a placard in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015, as she and others await the pro-choice activists with the March For Life. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion activists take part in the annual March for Life rally on January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-choice activists block the road as US Capitol Police escort the March For Life's front of the US Supreme Court (rear) in Washington, DC, on January 22, 2015. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Onder also pointed out that, while zoos have a five-day waiting period before they are permitted to euthanize animals, abortion clinics in Missouri require women to wait just three days after meeting with a doctor to have the procedure.

"Let's think about this. 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," he said. "So, zoo animals, it couldn't be more than 24 hours, right?"

Onder wrapped up by proposing an amendment requiring the zoo to rename itself "The Midwest Abortion Sanctuary City Zoological Park."

The lawmaker's comments naturally sparked major concern at the St. Louis Zoo Association, prompting a response from its president, Joseph T. Ambrose.

"Although this amendment is shocking, we know Sen. Onder supports the cultural institutions of the St. Louis region, including the Zoo," said Ambrose. "We believe that this amendment does not reflect the senator's regard for the Zoo and that it is meant to draw attention to unrelated issues."

Onder took to Twitter on Thursday to clarify his position on both issues.

(h/t The Cut)

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