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."

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)