Missouri cannot defund the Planned Parenthood abortion chain, for now anyway.
On Friday, a federal judge in St. Louis blocked a state budget measure to strip tax dollars from groups that provide abortions, the AP reports.
Planned Parenthood sued earlier this year, arguing that some of its facilities do not do abortions and should not be penalized. Last week, Judge David Dowd agreed that the defunding measure is “constitutionally flawed,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“… eligible individuals are allowed to choose the provider they wish to see and the state is required to pay for those services on behalf of the eligible individual,” Dowd wrote in his decision.
Gov. Mike Parson, a pro-life Republican, said they likely will appeal the ruling.
“Our office is still reviewing the court’s decision, however, we will always defend our position that no state taxpayer dollars should be used to fund abortion,” Parson said in a statement.
In 2018, the state legislature approved a budget guaranteeing that no state government funding will be allocated to affiliates of Planned Parenthood or any other groups that promote or provide abortions. While not all Planned Parenthoods abort unborn babies, they all promote abortions and refer patients for them.
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The budget amendment was offered by Representative Robert Ross of Yukon, and will have its major impact on services that qualify for reimbursement under the Medicaid program.
The Missouri General Assembly had adopted similar restrictive language in the budget two years ago, but Representative Ross says that Planned Parenthood had concocted a “shell game” to still access state funding.
Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick of Shell Knob says that the latest amendment will close a “loophole” that Planned Parenthood exploited to secure state taxpayer funding.
The budget also includes $15.7 million for the “Show-Me Healthy Babies” program, which provides health care coverage for children from lower-income families that do not qualify for Medicaid, and $6.5 million for alternatives to abortion programs that assist women with unplanned pregnancies.
Planned Parenthood aborts more unborn babies than any other group in the U.S. Its most recent annual report listed a record $1.66 billion in revenue, including about half a billion taxpayer dollars. That same year, it did 332,757 abortions – more than one third of all abortions in the U.S.
For years, lawmakers have been trying to defund Planned Parenthood at the state and federal level. But the abortion group sues to block the cuts, and activist judges often side with Planned Parenthood, rather than American taxpayers.
This summer, Missouri health officials and Planned Parenthood also are involved in another legal battle over the license of its St. Louis abortion facility. Last week, a judge allowed the abortion facility to remain open temporarily without a license, despite dozens of serious health and safety violations.