Missouri high court says state must pay Planned Parenthood

Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

COLUMBIA — 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 judges' 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. 

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. 

An Associated Press request for comment to the Missouri Attorney General's Office, which defended the law in court, was not immediately returned Tuesday. 

Planned Parenthood did not have immediate comment.