MoLeg Weekly Wrap-Up

HB 174 - Removing Local Control, Repealing Nondiscrimination Protections, and Prohibiting Clinic Safety Measures

The Senate Committee on Seniors, Families and Children held a hearing on and voted to advance House Bill 174 Wednesday. This measure, sponsored by Rep. Tila Hubrecht (R-Dexter), attempts to do two things: preempt the City of St. Louis’s nondiscrimination protections, and put so-called pregnancy resource centers above local laws.  

This February, the City of St. Louis passed an ordinance, BB 203, that protects citizens from housing and employment discrimination based on their reproductive decisions. The sponsor, St. Louis 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green, testified that BB 203 protects St. Louisans from being fired or evicted because they use birth control, get an abortion, get pregnant, or use IVF. House Bill 174 tries to undo these protections and allow discrimination.

House Bill 174 also removes local control over pregnancy resource center regulations. These centers, which are often religiously affiliated and have an anti-abortion mission, are on record providing false and misleading information about pregnancy and sex. This bill is written so broadly as to prohibit cities from establishing safety regulations including those to protect health centers that provide abortion facing threats of violence.

Following the hearing, the committee took an unusual step and voted to pass the Senate Committee Substitute immediately. Thank you to Sen. Jill Schupp (D-St. Louis County) for voting against this anti-reproductive health measure.

In its current form, the bill needs two votes in the Senate and House approval of the Senate changes before it can be sent to the governor. The Senate version of the bill, SB 41, is on the Senate calendar and can be brought up for debate at any time. Senate Bill 41 would need two votes before going to the House.

Cutting Access to Family Planning and Women’s Health Care

On Thursday, the legislature passed the budget and sent it to Gov. Eric Greitens. It contains a provision that could effectively dismantle Missouri’s family planning program, leaving thousands of low-income patients seeking birth control and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment with nowhere to go.

This measure could disqualify hundreds of providers across the state in Missouri’s family planning program. In a deceptive attempt to link this program to abortion, the provision seeks to bar any agencies that provide “abortion services” from receiving state funds — but it includes referral in the definition of abortion services. Legally and ethically, providers are obligated to inform patients of all options, including abortion. The budget is now on Gov. Greitens' desk.

Counting Down: The Final Week of Session

The Missouri Constitution requires the legislature to adjourn by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 12. With the budget passed, lawmakers will turn to substantive bills. Planned Parenthood Advocates will be monitoring both the House and Senate for bills and amendments that will impact Missourians’ sexual and reproductive health. To stay up with the latest, follow @PPMO_Advocates on Twitter!

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Recap: Handmaids Come to Jefferson City

On Wednesday, 11 Missouri women dressed as handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale visited the state Capitol to protest the legislature’s obsession with controlling Missourians’ reproductive rights and health. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the government starts to control women by taking their credit cards. In Missouri, lawmakers are trying to control uninsured women by dictating where they may and may not get their health care.

The handmaids visited the House and Senate chambers before walking through the rotunda with signs like “Gilead took credit cards. MoLeg is taking Medicaid cards” and “The Handmaid’s Taleis not an instruction manual.”

Recap: Freedom of Choice Council Lobby Day

On Thursday, Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri participated in the Freedom of Choice Council Lobby Day. More than 40 advocates from across Missouri traveled to Jefferson City for a busy day. They contacted nearly 50 legislators and met with 25 representatives and senators. Senator Jill Schupp spoke to the advocates about earned family leave legislation (Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 659), discussing how they involved many community and business stakeholders in the drafting process. Rep. Tracy McCreery’s (D-Creve Coeur), legislative assistant, Emily O’Laughlin, took questions from the group about the bill.

Recap: Rally Against the ACA Repeal

Planned Parenthood supporters from across the state turned out at elected officials’ offices on Friday to protest the ACA repeal and fight for access to health care. In Springfield, 45 supporters showed up to a lunch hour rally at Rep. Billy Long’s (R-MO 7) office to hold him accountable for supporting the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. In St. Louis, more than 200 supporters came out to Sen. Blunt’s (R-MO) Clayton office and implored him to protect the ACA and its protections for patients. 

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