Even while Missouri attempts to redirect funds away from abortion providers, a group of pro-life organizations is suing the city of St. Louis over a new ordinance that discriminates against pro-life groups. Ordinance 7059, which took effect in February, grants protected-class status to people who want or already have had an abortion. The ordinance does not apply to “religious institutions” but bans employers, landlords, or lending agencies from engaging in “discriminatory” behavior toward someone’s “reproductive health decision.” With help from the Thomas More Society, a home for pregnant women, a group of Catholic schools, a for-profit holding company and its owner, filed a lawsuit against the ordinance for violating state and federal law. Plaintiffs say the ordinance violates their right to free speech, and the home for women, Our Lady’s Inn, expressed concern the ordinance might force it to hire abortion activists. The ordinance also runs contrary to several Missouri state laws, including two that ban mandating employers to provide medical coverage for abortion. —S.G.
Missouri defunds Planned Parenthood—again
Missouri legislators recently discovered state dollars going to Planned Parenthood despite defunding the organization last year. The state’s 2018 budget includes a new blanket ban on Medicaid funds to facilities that perform, encourage, or refer for abortions.
Last year, the state cut $380,000 in state Medicaid funding to the abortion giant with a ban on funding to organizations that perform abortions. In doing so, they said goodbye to $8 million in federal funds, replacing them with money from the state coffer. But state officials continued to release funds to Planned Parenthood facilities that merely referred women to the group’s abortion megacenters in St. Louis and Kansas City, Kansas.
Susan Klein, Missouri Right to Life’s legislative liaison, told me funding to Planned Parenthood has been “ingrained” into the budget system and is hard to oust: “As [legislators] find all this money that’s been hidden over the years from different administrations that support abortion, then they’re defunding.”
The new budget redirects money from abortion centers to community health agencies and grants $14 million to cover pregnant women and children who cannot afford medical insurance but don’t qualify for Medicaid. Klein said she expects Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to approve the budget. —S.G.