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Missouri lawmakers try again to 'defund' Planned Parenthood

Posted at 12:29 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 13:29:19-05

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri's Republican-led House gave final approval Thursday to a stopgap budget that attempts to strip public funding for Planned Parenthood while paying for Medicaid expansion and funneling billions of federal dollars to schools.

House members voted 133-12 to send the bill to Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who had called on lawmakers to finish work on the plan weeks ago in order to more quickly start pumping money into state services. The supplemental budget plan only covers the final months of Missouri's fiscal year, which ends in June.

The budget plan is primarily needed to dole out roughly $1.7 billion in federal Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Funding to school districts, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in other federal funding for teacher retention, summer school and other education programs.

But Republican lawmakers also tacked on a provision aimed at blocking any public funding for Planned Parenthood centers, including clinics that do not provide abortions.

Abortion opponents in Missouri have for years sought to stop any taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood. But legislators struggled with "loopholes" that allowed Planned Parenthood clinics that provide other health care to continue receiving funding.

Lawmakers were able to stop money from going to Planned Parenthood in the 2019 fiscal year by forgoing some federal funding to avoid requirements that the clinics be reimbursed if low-income patients go there for birth control, cancer screenings and other preventative care. Missouri instead used state money to pay for those services.

But the Missouri Supreme Court in 2020 ruled that lawmakers violated the constitution by making the policy change through the state budget, forcing the state to reimburse Planned Parenthood for health care provided to Medicaid patients.

It's unclear how successful the latest attempt to "defund" Planned Parenthood will be.

The short-term budget plan also includes extra funding to pay for health care for thousands of newly eligible Medicaid recipients added to the program thanks to a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2020.

All state workers would get at least a 5.5% raise under the bill, with extra funding for other raises.