JEFFERSON CITY - An amendment to a House health-care appropriations bill dangled for more than four hours in the Senate before passing Monday night as legislators debated the fine points of language that will narrow a woman's access to abortion services in Missouri.
According to legislation passed last year and upheld in court on Feb. 3, the state is not compelled to fund abortion services to women. This was a blow to Planned Parenthood, the appellant in the case, because clinics that do provide abortions will now lose state funding.
Monday's Senate amendment elaborated on the Feb. 3 court ruling by stipulating what affiliation a family-planning clinic may maintain with an abortion clinic if it is to continue receiving state funds. The amendment, presented by Sen. John Schneider, D-St. Louis County, says that family-planning clinics affiliated with abortion clinics must have separate:
The requirement that state-funded clinics end abortion services hit home last week as Columbia's Planned Parenthood clinic, which still provides pregnancy and birth-control counseling, stopped offering abortions.
"The theory of the court is that when money goes to a facility that gives both family-planning services and abortions, it makes the state seem to provide benefits to abortion providers," Schneider said.
Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, objected to Schneider's amendment, saying that the language defining more narrowly what services a family-planning clinic may offer would invite more litigation from abortion clinics.
"I'll bet next year we'll be standing here discussing how much we want to spend to create more legal hoops that will make family planning and abortions more difficult," Jacob said. "They can't not file another suit."
Jacob also said the $250,000 in legal costs to the state for February's ruling against Planned Parenthood was a waste of money.
"I think its terrible that we are spending money to prevent abortions," Jacob said.
As debate dragged on, legislators determined that, according to the court ruling, affiliated clinics could have the same board of directors. Also, the amendment states that while family-planning clinics cannot counsel women to get an abortion, they can offer them a list of available abortion clinics.