Missouri pro-life legislators voted this week to take tax dollars from abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and use them for public education and comprehensive health care providers instead.
The Missouri House passed a proposed 2017 budget amendment on Tuesday that would cut about $380,000 in Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood, according to the Joplin Globe. About $55,000 of that money would be transferred to the budget for public education, the report states.
State Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, said Planned Parenthood can get the money back if it stops doing abortions.
“I’m not looking to harm women’s health services,” Ross said. “But if taking the entire amount is what it takes to stop our tax dollars from being used for abortion, that’s what I am willing to do.”
During the debate Tuesday, pro-life state Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, dismissed criticism from pro-abortion legislators who claimed that the cuts would hurt women’s access to health care, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“Everyone here needs to understand there are (centers that) … do exactly the same thing and they’re not allowed to do abortions at all,” Lichtenegger said. “To say we are losing everything with this amendment is ludicrous.”
The amendment, which removes money from the state Department of Social Services for Planned Parenthood, also stipulates that non-emergency abortion facilities and clinics that “counsel women to have an abortion not necessary to save the life of the mother” cannot receive state money from the department, according to the Globe.
The report states Planned Parenthood received about the same amount, $380,000, in the 2014 budget, and spent $220 on emergency abortion reimbursements and the rest on non-abortion related services. However, pro-life legislators argued that the funds still supported abortion indirectly.
A second pro-life measure also received initial approval from the state House on Wednesday. The bill will require a minor to notify both parents or guardians before she has an abortion, the report states.
Both measures must be approved in a final vote before moving to the state Senate, according to the reports.
The Missouri affiliate of NARAL used the proposals to fundraise for its pro-abortion agenda this week, according to the Globe report.
Like many other bills introduced recently across the U.S., the defunding measure came in response to a series of undercover videos showing the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling aborted babies’ body parts.
The issue has been particularly contentious in Missouri amid state investigations into whether the abortion business’s Missouri affiliate is selling aborted babies’ body parts. In January, two Missouri House committees recommended new regulations and increased legislative oversight of abortion facilities as a result of their investigations, the Columbia Missourian reports.
A letter signed by the chairs of the two committees noted that the report was incomplete because Planned Parenthood employees in Missouri did not cooperate with the investigation, the report states.
The abortion chain’s employees also failed to respond to a Missouri Senate committee subpoena to testify and provide documents, LifeNews reported earlier this month. As a result, Mary Kogut, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, could face jail time and fines for not answering the legal order, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Also facing possible jail time and fines is James Miller, the owner of a pathology lab that contracts with the abortion business, the report states.
Missouri state officials began investigating the Planned Parenthood abortion business after the Center for Medical Progress released the first of its shocking videos last summer. The investigation already has revealed a relationship between Planned Parenthood and the University of Michigan.
State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, discovered a research study being conducted by the university which assists Planned Parenthood in marketing its “abortion services,” according to Joe Orthweth of the Missouri Family Policy Council.
The study is being undertaken with university funding at the Reproductive Health Services abortion clinic operated by Planned Parenthood in St. Louis City. The purpose of the study, under the auspices of the University’s School of Social Work, is to examine the impact of a recently adopted Missouri law requiring a 72-hour period for abortions.
“It is difficult to understand how a research study approved by the University, conducted by a University student, and overseen by the Director of Social Work, can be perceived as anything but an expenditure of public funds to aid Planned Parenthood…in violation of Missouri law,” Schaefer wrote in a letter to former University Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
Missouri law expressly prohibits the use of state employees, state facilities or state funds to assist in the performance of elective abortions.
In November, Schaefer received death threats that he believes are related to his investigation of Planned Parenthood and its connection to the university, LifeNews reported.