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Missouri House votes to defund Planned Parenthood, eliminates $380,000 in funding

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The Missouri House voted to strip roughly $380,000 in Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood from its 2017 budget this week, the Joplin Globe reports.

The first of the amendments strips about $380,000 from the sections in the department’s budget about Medicaid reimbursements for pharmacy and physicians services. Although Planned Parenthood is not mentioned specifically in the language of the amendments, sponsor Rep. Rob Ross, R-Yukon, made it known that he did not want tax dollars going to an abortion provider.

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Some Missouri House Republicans have pointed out that women in Missouri can access women’s health care services at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). These facilities provide all the health services, sans abortion, that Planned Parenthood does, but they are far more abundant and accessible than Planned Parenthood. In Missouri there are 588 FQHCs. In 2013 FQHCs in Missouri served 442,058, the Charlotte Lozier Institute reports By contrast, there are only 13 Planned Parenthood locations in the state.

Missouri FQHCs

There’s no question women will have access to the same services without funding for Planned Parenthood.

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State representative Rep. Donna Lichtenegger is quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Everyone here needs to understand there are (centers that) … do exactly the same thing and they’re not allowed to do abortions at all. To say we are losing everything with this amendment is ludicrous.

Source: Charlotte Lozier Institute

But some say that because other states have lost the battle to defund Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood that Missouri will too. The Dispatch reports:

Last year, several states were warned against discriminating against Planned Parenthood by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, citing a 2011 memo that says states cannot terminate Medicaid funding to providers because of the services offered. Federal law allows those on Medicaid to obtain services such as family planning from any qualified provider, and ending Medicaid agreements with Planned Parenthood could conflict with that.

However, with 200 FQHC locations across the state, it may be difficult to prove that women have less access to these services.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President Laura McQuade recently noted in a letter soliciting donations and lamenting commonsense health care laws:

The result of these politically motivated regulations? The Planned Parenthood Health Center in Columbia had to suspend providing abortion services, forcing women to drive hundreds of miles across the state and wait days for needed health care services.

Women have not actually been “forced” to drive hundreds of miles across the state for “health care services”; however, they may choose to drive somewhere for an abortion.

The funding decision still has one more House vote before it advances to the Senate, but whatever happens, it’s clear that more lawmakers are realizing that poor and low-income women will still have access to all their needed health care services without Planned Parenthood, and abortion doesn’t need to be in play to help them.

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