ST. LOUIS - The 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis released an order preventing the state from discriminating against Planned Parenthood patients who rely on publicly funded health care programs. The state unsuccessfully argued budget bills passed by the Missouri Legislature allowed them to “defund” Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide thousands of Missouri safety-net patients with vital preventive care including birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing.
This case underscores aggressive attacks from state lawmakers and Gov. Parson’s administration on all aspects of reproductive health care. Under Parson’s watch, public health outcomes are alarming. Maternal mortality rates in Missouri are 50% higher than the rest of the country. A syphilis outbreak is sweeping the state. Governor Parson says he values life, but his actions are endangering Missourians’ health and lives.
Missouri’s 11 Planned Parenthood health centers are a crucial component of the safety net, providing comprehensive and accessible health care to thousands of patients each year. Planned Parenthood offers Pap tests and a full range of birth control options, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) — the most effective form of birth control. Additionally, each Planned Parenthood has evening or weekend hours, and offers patients same-day or next-day appointments in most cases.
A report found that besides Planned Parenthood, only seven percent of more than 600 safety-net providers offer comprehensive and accessible care. Missouri’s health care safety net is already strained — it needs more resources, not fewer providers. “Defunding” Planned Parenthood leaves many patients with nowhere to turn for the vital preventive care they need because the remaining health centers cannot absorb them.
Separately, the state is also attempting to deny a license renewal for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (RHS) to provide abortion in Missouri. A license denial for RHS would mean Missouri is left without a single remaining licensed abortion center legally able to provide care in the state. That would mean more than 1.1 million women of reproductive age in Missouri would face a world where they are blocked from accessing the health care they need. A world not seen since Roe v. Wade was decided.
“Governor Parson and other state leaders want to deny patients the chance to access sexual and reproductive health care, but the court has stepped in on behalf of Missourians,” said M’Evie Mead, Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri. “Patients who rely on Medicaid and the state family planning program should have access to the same high-quality care received by those with private insurance.”
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri has provided high-quality, supportive health care in the region since 1932. They are the area leaders in sexual and reproductive health care, providing contraception, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, education and more to tens of thousands of women and men each year. Patients can make appointments online or by phone at 1-800-230-PLAN (7526).