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Circuit Court blocks Planned Parenthood state family planning money

November 16, 1999
By: Hollie Maloney
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Columbia's Planned Parenthood will continue to provide family planning services despite the decision by a circuit court judge Tuesday that blocks Planned Parenthood from receiving state family planning money.

"We've made a goal to the women in this community and across the state to continue to provide low cost family planning services," said Kerri McBee-Black, spokesperson for the Columbia Planned Parenthood.

The decision from Cole County Circuit Judge Byron Kinder upholds a several-year effort by anti-abortion lawmakers to block organizations that provide abortions from getting state family planning money.

"There is a big difference between whether abortions are legal and compelling people who feel abortion is murder to pay taxes to the largest abortion agency in Missouri," said Rep. Todd Akin, R-St. Louis County and one of the legislature's leading anti-abortion lawmakers.

Within hours of the decision, Planned Parenthood announced it would appeal the decision.

"We are quite confident that the law the judge upheld is in violation of the constitution," said Peter Brownlie, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. "It goes beyond the guidelines the Supreme Court set out."

For the last several years, the legislature has included in the appropriation for family planning restrictions against the money going to organizations that provide or promote abortions.

Planned Parenthood had sought to avoid that restriction by having separate affiliate organizations provide the two different services.

Jordan Cherrick, the state's appointed attorney asked Kinder Oct. 29 to rule that Planned Parenthood should not receive anymore state money until they comply with the law and that they should return the money it received under the contract with the department.

He got what he asked for.

Kinder ruled the Planned Parenthood's approach did not meet the legal requirements because the two affiliate organizations still shared similar names, facilities and expenses. In addition, Kinder ruled, Planned Parenthood "distributes marketing materials about abortion services to patients."

Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau and a leading anti-abortion legislator in the Senate, said he was delighted.

"Judge Kinder can read the law and the Carnahan Administration can't," he said.

Louis DeFeo, spokesperson for Missouri Catholic Conference, said the court saw that Planned Parenthood shared things, like the same phone number, even though the abortion arm reimburses the family planning side.

"Their abortion services have no employees or officers, the equipment is owned by Planned Parenthood. It's like they pay a rental fee," he said.

Peter Brownlie, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said the decision is outrageous.

"Family planning has been damaged by anti-choice extremists," he said.

Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia, agreed.

"It will further limit family planning services available in Columbia. We don't provide enough already and this makes a bad situation worse."

He said the court didn't address the constitutionality of the issue.

"How can the state discriminate with one provider that does a legal procedure as opposed to another provider," Harlan asked.

Sen. Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico, said the ruling was unfair to women who need the family planning services.

"The issue won't end with some legislators until they drive health care away from women in the state," he said.

Cherrick said all Planned Parenthood had to do to continue to get the money was comply with the law.

"State family planning funds are available to Planned Parenthood if they would comply, but they refuse to do so," he said.

The Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri served 4,000 women with that state money, Brownlie said. "That money was used for abortion prevention," he said. Planned Parenthood is asking for special donations from citizens to account for the loss of the state money.

In Boone County, the Family Health Center and the Boone County Health Department also receives family planning money from the state.

DeFeo said this decision will benefit the public.

"Over the long run it will increase funding for public health services," he said.