The 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis finds Missouri’s attempt to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid payments unconstitutional. The court released an order on Tuesday, June 18 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.
In a press release, Planned Parenthood says the case underscores aggressive attacks levied by state lawmakers and Governor Parson’s administration on all aspects of reproductive health care. It says public health outcomes are alarming under Parson’s watch, with maternal mortality rates 50% higher in Missouri than the rest of the country and a syphilis outbreak is sweeping the state. “Gov. Parson says he values life but his actions are endangering Missourians’ health and lives,” it reads.
“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 Policy and Organizing, 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.”
In a separate legal action, Planned Parenthood and the State are set for a status conference on Friday, June 21 regarding the license renewal for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region to provide abortion services in Missouri. A license denial for RHS would leave Missouri women without a licensed abortion center in the state. Yesterday, in that case, the court denied the state’s request to reconsider the preliminary injunction it granted on June 10 and also denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a deadline extension.