A couple of lawmakers spoke out against new anti-abortion language in the state budget passed by the Missouri House and Senate last week.
The policy stated in last year’s spending plan said any entity or individual which performs abortions would risk losing all state financial assistance. That language was expanded in this year’s budget to include entities and individuals who refer women to other facilities for the procedure.
During Thursday’s budget debate on the House floor, Representative Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City) voiced her opposition to the change.
“By using this ridiculously broad definition of abortion services that includes referrals, the current versions of House Bills 10 and 11 may cut access to health care providers throughout the state – hospitals, federally qualified centers, OBGYN’s and clinics” said Morgan.
Following the Senate’s approval of the same budget late the same evening, Democrat Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur released a statement critical of the provision.
“I cannot and will not support fiscally irresponsible legislation that wastes taxpayer dollars just to score political points,” Schupp said. “It’s time we trust women to make their own health care decisions and tell politicians in Jefferson City to mind their own business.”
Morgan thinks the new language adds another layer to a state policy intended to eliminate a legal procedure.
“It’s what they’re doing with all the different restrictions they place on abortion” said Morgan. “It’s a way to try to make it harder and harder for women to access abortions, even though it is legal.”
Morgan notes federal law requires states to provide Medicaid funds to health providers who perform abortions, although she admits that could change under President Donald Trump’s administration.
Last month, a federal judge blocked two state laws that have kept Planned Parenthood clinics outside of one in St. Louis from providing the service.
U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs of the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City invalidated requirements for abortion clinics to meet standards for ambulatory surgical centers and for their doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals.
Morgan thinks the decision will allow Planned Parenthood, which brought the federal lawsuit, to start offering abortions in Columbia and Kansas City. She also thinks medical abortions, which are administered orally by taking pills in the early weeks of pregnancy, will be offered at those facilities, plus one of the organization’s other clinics in Springfield.
Only Schupp and Morgan expressed distaste for the new abortion referral language during Thursday’s budget debates. Morgan says that’s because lawmakers focused on many different issues contained in the spending plan.
“All of us kind of have our areas of expertise and we talk out on those issues. I’m from a really progressive district and this is an issue that my constituents really support.”
Morgan also notes Representative Stacy Newman (D-St. Louis), an abortion rights activist in the legislature, was not present for the House floor debate because a previous commitment.