JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The 2020 Legislative Session adjourned today, with lawmakers failing to support Missourians in the most dire public health crisis of our time.
M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, issued the following statement:
“Shame on Missouri’s legislative leaders. Instead of helping Missourians through this public health crisis, politicians prioritized attacking Planned Parenthood patients and passing a radical gerrymandering plan.
“The politicians pushing the deceptive Dirty Missouri amendment have ignored the ongoing public health and jobs crisis as they chose to focus instead on their outrageous politician-protection plan.
“Despite the attacks, Missourians can count on Planned Parenthood Advocates to keep fighting to ensure people can participate in a fair democracy and can access the health care they need, including safe and legal abortion.
“If Governor Parson has an ounce of leadership in him, he will veto the bills attacking Planned Parenthood patients and speak out against the Dirty Missouri amendment.”
Lawmakers passed two bills that target patients in an attempt to “defund” Planned Parenthood. The measures discriminate against patients by blocking them from accessing birth control, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment at Planned Parenthood health centers. Even before the pandemic, Missouri’s health care safety net was too strained to adequately care for all patients. Instead of working to make sure all Missourians can access the health care they need, politicians chose to target Planned Parenthood patients and block their care.
The Legislature’s misplaced priorities extended to attacking democracy reform and trying to remove protections for fair redistricting maps. Despite 62% of Missouri voters — in every State Senate district — passing Amendment 1 less than two years ago, Jefferson City politicians chose to ignore the will of the people and pass SJR 38 to undo these reforms and enact a radical gerrymandering scheme.
The Republican majority also failed to step up and protect Missourians’ voting rights during this pandemic. Missouri has some of the most outdated election laws in the country — laws that are currently preventing us from meeting the challenge of the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of acting to ensure that voters can cast their ballots without risking their health, these politicians refused to adopt a statewide policy allowing people to safely vote absentee.
Jefferson City leaders continued to ignore Missouri’s rising maternal mortality rate — which sees Black women dying at three times the rate of white women — a statewide outbreak of syphilis, and the more than 230,000 Missourians who can’t access affordable health care because these same lawmakers have refused to expand Medicaid.
This legislative session has been a failure for the health and well-being of Missourians, but Planned Parenthood Advocates is doing everything we can to protect patients’ health and lives and hold politicians accountable.