Missouri high court says state must pay Planned Parenthood

SUMMER BALLENTINE

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that lawmakers violated the state constitution when they tried to end all government funding of Planned Parenthood.

The 6-1 ruling scraps a provision in a state budget law forbidding Medicaid reimbursements to any Planned Parenthood clinic, even those that don't provide abortions. That means the state will once again be required to pay Planned Parenthood for preventative health care and family planning for Medicaid patients.

“Today is a victory for Planned Parenthood patients who rely on public health insurance programs to stay healthy," M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing at Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, which defended the law in court, said the office is disappointed in the ruling.

Abortion opponents in Missouri have for years sought to stop any taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and elsewhere.

But legislators struggled with “loopholes” that allowed Planned Parenthood clinics that provide other healthcare to continue receiving funding.

Lawmakers were able to stop money from going to Planned Parenthood in the 2019 fiscal year by forgoing some federal funding to avoid requirements that the clinics be reimbursed if low-income patients go there for birth control, cancer screenings and other preventative care. Missouri instead used state money to pay for those services.

Planned Parenthood sued in response, arguing that some of its chapters provide preventative health care and not abortion and shouldn’t be financially penalized.

A lower court agreed, and the Supreme Court did, too.

Judges wrote in the ruling that the budget move by lawmakers was a “clear and unmistakable violation” of the Constitution, which prohibits lawmakers from using the budget to create policy.

Missouri has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, and the state Supreme Court decision comes just weeks after it also ruled against the health department for not renewing the abortion license for a St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic.

More From

  • Delle Donne waiting to hear from WNBA medical review panel

    WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne is waiting to have her case heard by the league's independent panel of doctors to see if she'll be medically excused for the season, according to the Washington Mystics. The Mystics star, who was the league Most Valuable Player last year, has battled Lyme Disease since 2008 and would potentially be at a higher risk for serious illness if she contracted the new coronavirus. Neither player is in Florida right now with the team.

  • Record-signing Lozano starting to fit in at Napoli

    ROME (AP) -- Small in stature and with the speed to match fellow forwards like Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, Hirving Lozano fits right in at Napoli.

  • Barcelona wins derby against Espanyol, relegates city rival

    Barcelona kept its title hopes alive with a 1-0 win in the city derby against Espanyol in the Spanish league on Wednesday, sealing the rival's relegation for the first time in nearly three decades. Luis Suarez scored the winning goal early in the second half to move Barcelona within a point of leader Real Madrid and send Espanyol to the second division after 26 straight seasons in the top flight. Real Madrid can reclaim a four-point lead with three rounds left with a home win against relegation-threatened Alaves on Friday.

  • AP Explains: Options narrowing for Venezuela's opposition

    Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is increasingly moving to sideline the opposition led by U.S.-backed lawmaker Juan Guaidó. A string of recent court rulings dismantling three influential opposition parties along with growing citizen disillusionment — not to mention the coronavirus pandemic — have thrown a new wrench in the opposition’s efforts to oust Maduro. Over the last month, Venezuela's government-stacked Supreme Court has ordered the takeover of three dominant opposition parties.