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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Planned Parenthood Advocates condemns Missouri lawmakers for blocking patients’ access to health care during the most dire public health crisis of our time. 

For the third year in a row, the Legislature has passed two bills that aim to “defund” Planned Parenthood. “Defunding” is shorthand for discriminating against patients who rely on publicly funded health care programs by blocking their access to birth control, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing at Planned Parenthood health centers. 

M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, issued the following statement:

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, yet our lawmakers are trying to block Missourians from getting the health care they need. Our state’s health care safety net is already overburdened, and Planned Parenthood patients who rely on publicly funded health care programs for their preventive care — birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment — may have nowhere else to access care.

"Planned Parenthood has continued to serve these patients, but this is not sustainable. On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, Missouri is in the midst of a syphilis outbreak. It’s clear, during these trying times, Missourians need more access to health care — not less.

“Thousands of Missourians are now depending on Gov. Parson to protect their access to basic, preventive health care by vetoing these discriminatory budget provisions.”

The health care safety net is already strained: A report has found that besides Planned Parenthood, only 7% of more than 600 safety-net health centers offer a full range of birth control options and have evening or weekend hours. With a resurgence of syphilis, Missouri is facing a sexually transmitted infection (STI) public health crisis, yet the Missouri Legislature is blocking patients from the very testing and treatment services that keep people healthy and prevent the spread of STIs.

Governor Parson’s budget did not include “defund” language in House Bills 2010 and 2011. The House Appropriations Committee broke with the governor's recommendations, and the Senate went along. In addition to keeping patients from accessing preventive care like birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment, “defunding” Planned Parenthood could jeopardize Missouri's entire federal Medicaid allotment because it violates federal law protecting Medicaid patients’ right to choose any willing provider of family planning services.

Missourians are now counting on Gov. Parson to veto these provisions, demand the legislature stop discriminating against patients, and protect access to health care.