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Parson signs bill barring Medicaid reimbursements from going to 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 and Southwest Missouri clinic in the Central West End in April 2023.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation Thursday that would bar the state’s Medicaid program from steering any funds to providers like Planned Parenthood.

While supporters of the measure praised it as a way to prevent money from going to an organization most known for abortion services, critics contend it will close off access to health care like cancer screenings and wellness exams.

For years, Missouri Republicans had sought to stop any funds from going to abortion providers or their affiliates. While abortion is illegal in Missouri, Planned Parenthood clinics provide reproductive health care services like cancer screenings and contraceptive access.

Parson said House Budget Chairman Cody Smith’s legislation would preserve Missouri’s status as a “pro-life state.”

“It's a tremendous victory for life in the state of Missouri,” said Smith, R-Carthage.

State Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, an Arnold Republican who handled the legislation in her chamber, praised Parson for not only signing the bill but also a previous one that ended up banning most abortions in Missouri.

“Under his leadership, he's done everything he can to make sure that taxpayer dollars do not go to organizations that support and fund abortions,” she said.

A statement from Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri condemned Parson's signing of the legislation.

“By denying Medicaid patients’ right to receive health care from Planned Parenthood, politicians are directly obstructing access to much-needed health services, including birth control, cancer screenings, annual wellness exams, and STI testing and treatment,” the statement said.

It continued: “Planned Parenthood health centers play a critical role in Missouri’s health care safety net. ‘Defunding’ Planned Parenthood risks the sustainability of the state’s entire health care system and the health of all Missourians who rely on it.”

Prior efforts to bar Medicaid funds from going to Planned Parenthood through the budgetary process were struck down in court. That prompted lawmakers like Smith and Coleman to try to pass the measure as a standalone bill. Planned Parenthood’s statement contended the bill could violate federal Medicaid law, since it “guarantees every patients’ right to choose any willing and qualified provider.”

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said last month she expects the bill to be challenged in court.

“This is kind of a new tactic. Obviously this will be handled a little bit differently, but I expect the outcome to be the same,” Quade said.

The bill goes into effect Aug. 28.

Planned Parenthood said its health centers in Missouri “remain open and are committed to expanding care to provide for those who relied on Medicaid for family planning services.”

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.