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Missouri legislature sends bill to governor ending funding for abortion providers

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(The Center Square) – Legislators believe Planned Parenthood hasn’t received any reimbursements from Missouri for two years, and a bill headed to Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s desk will make that permanent.

House Bill 2634, passed by the House on Wednesday, would make it illegal for public funds, including Medicaid reimbursements, to be paid to abortion facilities or affiliates. In the past, courts have overturned the funding requirement when attached to state budgets.

“What’s different about this time is that it is a statutory change,” Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, and a candidate for her party’s nomination for secretary of state, told reporters on Thursday. “This same model has been upheld in another state that has already attempted to do that and in the same Federal Circuit we’re in.”

Democrats predict a lawsuit and a ruling parallel to previous decisions.

“I definitely anticipate this to be brought up in court,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and a candidate for her party’s nomination for governor, told reporters on Thursday. “I would anticipate a similar outcome if not the same. The Republicans have been trying to do this through the budget process every year and, of course, (courts) have struck that down. This is kind of a new tactic, so obviously it’ll be handled a little bit differently. But I expect the outcome to be the same.”

Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, the bill’s sponsor and a candidate for his party’s nomination for treasurer, pushed back on arguments the bill will keep women on Medicaid from receiving health care they previously obtained from Planned Parenthood.

“I think the market will provide solutions there,” said Smith, the House budget chairman. “I think we’ve taken major steps to expand access to primary care across the state and including all the markets that Planned Parenthood is prominently in. And this doesn’t prohibit people from going to Planned Parenthood. It just means that taxpayers aren’t going to subsidize their services.”

Coleman said her research found Planned Parenthood hasn’t received any reimbursements from the state for two years.

“Missouri voters have continued to elect pro-life legislators who are wanting to make sure the taxpayer dollars don’t go to abortion providers or their affiliates,” Coleman said.

Coleman provided a scenario where Missouri’s Planned Parenthood clinics could receive public funds if they legally changed affiliation.

“If those clinics are so focused on providing to the Medicaid population and that defunding them is going to be such a problem for them, they could disaffiliate with Planned Parenthood,” Coleman said. “Those are Missouri clinics that are owned and operated by Missourians. And if the health of the women in the state of Missouri were more important to them than that affiliation, then they would disaffiliate.”

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