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Missouri House gives initial approval to defunding clinics like 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 Missouri House gave initial approval Wednesday to legislation that would stop public funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, from going to any facilities that provide abortions in the state, including affiliates.

That means Planned Parenthood clinics in the Missouri, which do not currently provide abortions but do offer other reproductive health services like contraceptive access and cancer screenings, would not receive public funds.

Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, the House Budget chair and sponsor of the bill, said he hopes this will be the final chapter in these efforts.

“House Bill 2634 would seek to simply codify that in statute and say that we are not going to allow abortion providers or their affiliates to be reimbursed through our state's Medicaid program,” Smith said.

The action from the House comes after previous efforts to disallow funding to abortion providers through the state’s budget have failed.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled two weeks ago that the legislature’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood through the budget was unconstitutional. The court made a similar ruling in 2020.

Support for the legislation, which passed through a voice vote, will likely fall along party lines in both chambers.

Several House Democrats spoke against the legislation, saying it will take away access to reproductive health care.

“We're going to turn out a whole slew of people from having access to health care that they have today, because we don't want to pay clinics who take care of them,” Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Manchester, said.

Several Republicans spoke in favor of the legislation, including Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove.

“This is important. The most important vote some of us may take … and I ask you to join me in voting yes,” Kelly said.

An initiative petition seeking to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution is currently collecting signatures.

Rep. Emily Weber, D-Kansas City, and Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City, referenced that effort during debate.

“What this bill is about is taking away health care from Missourians, that’s what it comes down to,” Nurrenbern said. “And that's what's so frustrating to me that everybody is getting wrapped up in the abortion debate, and I'll tell you what, we're going to settle that in November.”

The legislation needs one more vote in the House before it can go to the Senate. However, movement on the legislation is likely to slow if it makes it onto the Senate floor.

Currently, a similar Senate bill has been stalled by Democrats.

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.