Attorneys for the state of Missouri asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to be allowed to protect state taxpayers’ money from funding the largest abortion provider in the U.S.
The AP reports Missouri lawmakers’ on-going efforts to defund Planned Parenthood were at the center of the Missouri Supreme Court hearing this week.
The Planned Parenthood abortion chain sued after lawmakers passed a law earlier this year to prohibit state Medicaid dollars from funding abortion facilities and their affiliates.
Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar abortion provider, and its leaders have said abortion is its “core mission.” While Medicaid funds do not directly pay for abortions, taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood helps to subsidize its vast abortion business.
Here’s more from Courthouse News:
Central to both the clinic and state’s argument is whether the bill violates the single subject provision in the Missouri Constitution, which states that bills cannot relate to more than one subject except general appropriation bills, which may embrace various subjects and accounts for which state money is appropriated.
Missouri Solicitor General D. John Sauer [said] Planned Parenthood’s argument would essentially mandate funding for the present and the future.
Sauer argued precedent held that, “One General Assembly cannot tie the hands of its successor.”
It is not clear when the Missouri Supreme Court may rule on the matter.
Chuck Hatfield, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, told journalists Tuesday that the defunding measure could disrupt women’s health care in the state.
“Women have been for decades coming to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, pap smears and birth control pills,” Hatfield said. “It’s very disruptive to have to change providers. … There is a shortage of Medicaid providers in the state so it is important for Planned Parenthood to continue to provide those services.”
But women and families still can access Medicaid services through the hundreds of federally qualified community health clinics across the state. In 2015, there were 588 health clinics in Missouri versus 13 Planned Parenthoods. Most community health clinics provide comprehensive health care services, while Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services are very limited.
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Though judges have blocked some of the defunding efforts, Missouri was able to defund state Planned Parenthoods of more than $1 million over the past two years, The Kansas City Star reports.
In 2018 and again in 2019, Missouri lawmakers passed measures in the state budget that restrict taxpayer funding through Medicaid to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
The state Department of Social Services began withholding taxpayer funding from abortion groups on July 1, according to the report.
“We are not saying women can’t go to these facilities — this is not a prohibition of women going to these facilities,” said state Rep. Cody Smith, the Missouri House Budget Chair, previously. “This is a prohibition of taxpayer dollars from going to these facilities.”
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.
The defunding measures are good news for taxpayers as well as mothers and babies. The Planned Parenthood abortion facility in St. Louis has one of the worst reputations in the country. According to Operation Rescue, it has an average of one injured woman every 20 days over the past eight years.
The state health department recently moved to revoke the St. Louis abortion facility’s license, but Planned Parenthood sued to block the move. For now, the St. Louis facility remains open.
In 2018, state lawmakers also set aside $6.5 million for alternatives to abortion services that support pregnant and parenting moms through maternity homes, pregnancy centers and other agencies, according to Campaign Life Missouri. They budgeted an additional $15.7 million for the “Show-Me Healthy Babies” program, the state children’s health insurance program that provides health care coverage for lower income children who are not eligible for Medicaid, according to the pro-life group.
Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United States. Its 2018 annual report recorded 332,757 abortions. While its abortion numbers and revenue have increased, its patient numbers and health services have declined steadily over the past decade.