Missouri Supreme Court rules state can't deny Planned Parenthood public funding

A sign hangs above a Planned Parenthood clinic on May 18, 2018, in Chicago, Illinois.
A sign hangs above a Planned Parenthood clinic on May 18, 2018, in Chicago, Illinois. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled against a state law that deprived Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers of Medicaid funding, upholding a lower court decision.

In an opinion issued Wednesday, the state's highest court said that the state did not dispute the claim by Planned Parenthood that the law denied it equal protection as other "authorized providers" were able to receive Medicaid reimbursement for "providing the same physicians' and family planning services."

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Missouri officials over House Bill 3014, a measure passed in 2022 that barred the abortion provider from Medicaid reimbursements.

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The high court affirmed an earlier ruling from the Circuit Court of Cole County in regard to the "single subject claim." Planned Parenthood argued that HB 3014 violated the state constitution by focusing on multiple issues rather than just one.

"Thus, it is clear there were two independent constitutional bases for the circuit court to enter judgment for Planned Parenthood — a violation of the Missouri Constitution's single subject provision and a violation of the Missouri Constitution's equal protection provision," read the opinion.

"Even if this Court reviewed the judgment entered against the State on Planned Parenthood's single subject claim, the circuit court's judgment would ultimately be affirmed because the equal protection claim was not appealed and would remain an independent basis for entering the circuit court's judgment."

Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, issued a joint statement on Wednesday celebrating the ruling.

"Today, the Missouri Supreme Court again reaffirmed our patients' right to access critical care like cancer screenings, birth control, annual exams, STI testing and treatment, and more at Planned Parenthood health centers," they stated.

"Repeatedly, the courts have rejected politicians' ongoing attempts to deprive patients of their health care by unconstitutionally kicking Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid program."

Rodríguez and Wales believe their "fight for patient access is far from over" and that they "will continue to do all we can in order to ensure our patients keep their access to health care — our doors stay open."

At present, Missouri bans abortions in nearly all circumstances. While the Planned Parenthood chapters that operate in the state do not provide abortions in Missouri, Planned Parenthood clinics in other states do.

The state supreme court decision comes as Missouri lawmakers debate a new proposal to prevent public funds from going to Planned Parenthood, which included testimony given last month before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

"Budgets are moral documents," stated Samuel Lee of the pro-life group Campaign Life Missouri, who testified in support of the legislation, as quoted by the Missouri Independent. "And it's immoral to spend money on organizations that provide and promote abortions."

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