Monday Monitor: March 14, 2016

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Contact: M’Evie Mead, 314-531-7526 x348, mevie.mead@ppmissouri.org

House Attacks Planned Parenthood in the Medicaid Budget

The Missouri House voted to block Medicaid funding for any provider performing or referring for an abortion in any case other than to save the life of the woman. Rep. Robert Ross (R-Yukon) sponsored the measure, which clearly violates federal Medicaid law, as the full House debated the state budget on Tuesday evening. If implemented, the proposal would prohibit the thousands of Missouri MO HealthNet recipients from choosing Planned Parenthood and other affected providers for their health care, leaving many with nowhere else to turn.

Federal law ensures Medicaid recipients have a right to choose any qualified health care provider, including Planned Parenthood. In fact, the House version of the budget could jeopardize Missouri’s entire Medicaid program as states must follow the federal rules in order to receive federal Medicaid funds.

Several Democrats spoke in opposition to the proposal explaining that the law already prohibits tax dollars from paying for abortions. The real target of the proposal is access to preventive care like birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatments.

The budget process is lengthy and this reckless measure is by no means final. The Senate still needs to weigh in. Planned Parenthood will fight back against this political gamesmanship and continue providing patients with high-quality, compassionate health care.

Update: Pending Legislation That Would Endanger Women’s Health

House Bill 1370 gained first-round approval in the House last week. The bill requires Missouri teens, who already must have the consent of one parent to have an abortion, to notify the second parent beforehand. Several Democrats spoke against the bill, explaining that many teens face violence and abuse at home and would not feel safe disclosing a pregnancy to both parents. Opponents also cited leading medical authorities like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which oppose such laws because they do not foster healthy family communication & can actually endanger teens by preventing them from accessing the health care they need. The House must vote to pass the bill once more before it would go to the Senate.

Senate Bill 644 is an omnibus Targeted Restriction of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill. Under the guise of protecting women’s health, it would add many new medically unnecessary requirements that are actually designed to restrict access to safe & legal abortion. The Senate has briefly debated SB 644 and it may take up this sham law again at any time.

Senate Bill 802 would ban abortion in the case of a Down syndrome diagnosis. This measure would do nothing to make Missouri a better place for people with disabilities and their families. Rather, this cynical bill uses people with disabilities as a wedge to further politicians’ extremist agenda to restrict access to safe and legal abortion. This measure is not supported by the National Down Syndrome Society, and many parents of children with Down syndrome have spoken out against this policy. Instead of interfering with a woman’s deeply personal and often complex medical decision, our legislature ought to focus on funding measures that will actually improve life for people with disabilities and their families. The Senate has briefly debated SB 802 and may take it up for debate once more at any time.

39-Hour Filibuster of Anti-LGBT Constitutional Amendment

The Senate Democrats staged a historic 39-hour filibuster of SJR 39, a proposed constitutional amendment that would explicitly permit businesses that cite a religious belief to discriminate against LGBT Missourians. The filibuster began late Monday afternoon and lasted until Wednesday morning, when Republican leaders used a rare procedural move to end debate.

The Senate voted on Thursday evening to send SJR 39 to the House. If the House passes the measure, it will bypass the governor and go to a vote of the people on either the August or November 2016 ballot.

Good News on Two Fronts for Comprehensive Sex Ed

On Wednesday, March 2, high school and college students traveled to Jefferson City to testify before the Senate Education Committee in support of SB 672, sponsored by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City). The proactive measure would require school districts that choose to offer sex education to ensure their materials are comprehensive, age-appropriate, and medically accurate. It would also return local control to school districts and allow them to decide whether to invite sex education experts to instruct students. Following the hearing, Sen. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) introduced three of the students, Alexis Smith, Sterling Waldman, and Anna Rickard, on the floor of the Senate and applauded their advocacy for comprehensive sex education.

Students testify in support of sex ed

Last week, the suburban St. Louis Parkway School District updated its antiquated sex education standards to be more comprehensive and medically accurate. Parents, medical experts, educators, and students participated in an extensive process to develop the standards to meet student needs. Organizations opposed to comprehensive sex education mounted a significant campaign in opposition. The school board voted 4-3 to adopt a new sex education curriculum that is comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive and touches on bullying, sexting, and sexual harassment. The materials, which remain abstinence-based, will be taught beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

P.S. It is your support that drives us to fight for reproductive
rights and allows us to provide vital health services to those in our
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About ppmissouri

A project of: ADVOCATES of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri Planned Parenthood Great Plains
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