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State Supreme Court stops Missouri Legislature’s attempt to discriminate against patients based on where they get their health care

The ruling comes as the state scrambles to deal with COVID-19 pandemic after years of attacks on health care access and public health resources like Planned Parenthood

This is the second ruling this week protecting access to reproductive health care after the U.S. Supreme Court protected abortion access for Louisiana patients in June Medical Services v. Russo

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - In a decision issued today, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the effort by politicians in the state legislature to prevent Medicaid patients from receiving care from Planned Parenthood was unlawful. The Missouri Legislature unlawfully used the budget to “defund” Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide thousands of Missouri safety-net patients with vital preventive care like birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatments. The decision came during a public health emergency amidst a worldwide pandemic. Despite this ruling, Gov. Parson today signed off on another unlawful budget that discriminates against patients. 

Statement from M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing at Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri:

“Today is a victory for Planned Parenthood patients who rely on public health insurance programs to stay healthy. Planned Parenthood health centers across the state have protected our communities’ health care needs by providing preventive services to thousands of patients. It’s unconscionable for Gov. Parson to continue trying to defund safety-net providers like Planned Parenthood while Missouri is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At a time when our health care system is stretched to the brink and our state is in the middle of a public health crisis, Gov. Parson and the legislature should be doing everything they can to support safety-net providers and the patients they serve, not trying to score political points by cutting access to care.”

 


Background

This case underscores aggressive attacks from state lawmakers and Gov. Parson on all aspects of reproductive health care. Under Parson’s watch, public health outcomes are alarming. Maternal mortality rates in Missouri are more than one third higher than the national average. Black women are three to four times likelier than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. A syphilis outbreak is sweeping the state. Gov. Parson says he values life, but his actions are endangering Missourians’ health and yes, their 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 in the state 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.

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Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri works to protect and expand sexual and reproductive rights and health for all Missourians. It is a joint project of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes and Advocates of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, the advocacy and political arms of both Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri.