St. Louis aldermen delay final vote on protest buffer zones around health facilities
Updated March 9 at 1:50 p.m. with second delay — Supporters of a bill that would keep protesters away from the driveway at Planned Parenthood's Central West End clinic will have one more chance to send it to Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The sponsor of the so-called "buffer zones" again delayed a vote on the bill at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Friday because not enough "yes" votes were in attendance. The board is off until April 16, the last day of the current session If members cannot get enough votes that day, they will have to start over.
Original story from March 2
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will wait at least another week to take a final vote on additional protection for women seeking services from the Planned Parenthood clinic in the Central West End.
The measure, which requires people to stay at least eight feet from the sides of a driveway to a health care facility, received 15 votes in first-round approval last week. With the swearing-in of Alderwoman Annie Rice, I-8th Ward, supporters likely have 16 votes from the 29-member board, one more than required to send the bill to the mayor.
But that margin is so narrow, almost all the "yes" votes need to be there. Enough were absent from the meeting Friday that the sponsor of the buffer zone, Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, decided to wait.
“I think it gives both sides opportunity to get people who may be on the fence, but I’m still feeling confident that regardless of both of our efforts, I will have the votes to get this thing out of here,” Ingrassia said.
Anti-abortion advocates say the eight-foot rule chills their right to free speech and marks the start down a slippery slope where buffer zones will be set up to block any speech people don’t want to hear. The Archdiocese of St. Louis said it will use the extra week to continue to raise awareness about the bill on social media, and its impact on free speech.
Ingrassia has two more chances to get the buffer zone measure to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s desk. Aldermen have one more meeting scheduled for next week before taking a five-week break. The final day of the 2017-2018 session is April 16.
Krewson has not yet publicly taken a position on the buffer zone bill, but Ingrassia said she is not expected to veto it.
Rice sworn in
For the first time in about three months, the Board of Aldermen is at full strength.
Circuit Judge Annette Llewellyn delivered the oath of office Friday to Annie Rice, who won a special election as an independent to fill the term of former 8th Ward Alderman Steve Conway. Conway resigned in late November after being named assessor.
Rice is the first independent to join the board since Scott Ogilvie won his 24th Ward seat in 2011. Ogilvie ran for re-election in 2015 as a Democrat. Rice is expected to do the same if she runs for a full term in 2019.
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