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Missouri legislature passes bill to keep state funding from Planned Parenthood

The Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region & Southwest Missouri clinic on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in the Central West End.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region & Southwest Missouri clinic on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in the Central West End.

The legislation comes after several unsuccessful attempts to stop public funds from going to abortion providers or affiliates through the budget process. The bill now goes to Gov. Mike Parson.

Missouri lawmakers passed legislation Wednesday that bars any state funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, from going to abortion providers or their affiliates.

This means that since Planned Parenthood performs abortions in other states, locations in Missouri would not receive state reimbursements for services provided to Medicaid patients.

While abortion is illegal in Missouri, Planned Parenthood clinics provide reproductive health care services like cancer screenings and contraceptive access.

On a party-line vote, House members approved the measure 106-48.

Because the House adopted the Senate’s changes to an underlying House bill, the legislation now goes to Gov. Mike Parson.

“The bill is very much still intact. It very much does what we initially intended it to do, which is to defund abortion providers and their affiliates. So, I feel good about where it's at today,” said Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage.

Rep. Brian Seitz, R-Branson, said even though abortion is illegal in the state, the legislation still needed to pass.

“Missouri will continue to be a pro-life state,” Seitz said.

The passage of the bill is the latest attempt by Republican lawmakers to stop state money from going to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers and affiliates.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled this year that the legislature’s attempt to do the same thing through the state budget was unconstitutional. The court made a similar ruling in 2020.

Unlike prior attempts, this bill makes the change through state statute. It is expected to be challenged in court.

A statement issued by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region and Southwest Missouri referenced the prior state Supreme Court rulings.

“Despite the courts repeatedly ruling that ‘defunding’ Planned Parenthood health centers is unconstitutional, lawmakers continue to deny critical care like birth control, cancer screenings, wellness exams, and STI testing & treatment from the patients who need it.”

The statement also said Planned Parenthood will “continue to do everything we can to continue serving our patients — no matter what.”

Multiple Democrats spoke out against the bill on the House floor.

Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, referenced Missouri’s maternal mortality rate.

“Many of you have said over and over again, we need to do more, we need to do more. This is not an option of doing more. We are taking away financial resources to be given to areas and organizations that are providing access to health care resources,” Bosley said.

Democrats also referred to the current petition seeking to put abortion rights in the Missouri constitution through a statewide vote. The deadline to collect the necessary signatures to put the issue on the ballot is May 5.

“You all know that November is coming, and this bill will not matter. It won't matter because women of this state are going to come in full force and demand their rights back from the body that stripped it of them,” said Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit.

Copyright 2024 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Kellogg is a first year graduate student at the University of Missouri studying public affairs reporting. She spent her undergraduate days as a radio/television major and reported for KBIA. In addition to reporting shifts, Sarah also hosted KBIA’s weekly education show Exam, was an afternoon newscaster and worked on the True/False podcast. Growing up, Sarah listened to episodes of Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! with her parents during long car rides. It’s safe to say she was destined to end up in public radio.