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On Wednesday, two Republican lawmakers from Missouri made a “joke” suggesting that women seeking an abortion should go to a zoo, rather than a doctor, due to safety reasons.

State Senator Bob Onder stated, “The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year,” to which his colleague, State Senator Wayne Wallingford, replied, “Maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo because we know it’ll be safer.”

Onder then went on to make a comment about waiting periods. Missouri law requires that a woman wait three days after seeing a doctor to receive an abortion, while the St. Louis Zoo has a five-day waiting period for euthanizing animals.

“Let’s think about this,” Onder began, “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. So, zoo animals, it couldn’t be more than 24 hours, right? Five days, Senator.”

Onder didn’t stop there. “I believe there’s some sort of requirement to notify in case some other zoo wants to adopt that animal. Isn’t that interesting?” he asked.

State Senator Onder had initially taken the floor to speak out against a tax hike that would benefit the zoo because he disagrees with St. Louis’ newly proposed ban on employers and landlords discriminating against women due to their reproductive choices (having an abortion, being pregnant, using birth control, etc.).

Missouri already has such extensive restrictions on abortion clinics that there is only one available in the entire state (a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis); however, these Republican lawmakers apparently wish to make women’s access to healthcare an even bigger issue. Onder continued with his comedy routine, proposing an amendment to rename the zoo the “Midwest Abortion Sanctuary City Zoological Park.”

Progress Missouri, an advocacy group, gave a statement condemning Onder's remarks.

"Not only has he 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."

The group also commented on State Senator Wallingford's statement that zoos are safer than abortion clinics. "Unfortunately, this nonsensical rhetoric is as dangerous as it is disturbing, and there’s no place for it in public discourse.”

No surprise that both of these Republican jokesters are men. Sigh.

Top photo: Flickr/Chris Tou

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