Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood supporters rally in 2015 outside the agency's clinic in St. Louis after a mass shooting at a clinic in Colorado Springs.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

State officials charged with overseeing Missouri’s changes in its women’s health program for the poor are officially estimating it will be next April before a new state-funded program is in place that bars Planned Parenthood from participating.

Missouri’s Department of Social Services has posted its phase-out plan on its website. It comes after Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that it will take months for the state to replace its federally funded women’s health program – which must include Planned Parenthood – with a state-funded program that does not.

Kurt Schaefer
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Sen. Kurt Schaefer to the program. The Columbia Republican, who usually sports cowboy boots, last was a guest of the show in late 2014.

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Planned Parenthood's St. Louis clinic has agreed to hand over some documents to the Missouri Senate on how it disposes of fetal tissue.

As part of the negotiated agreement the Senate will suspend contempt proceedings against Planned Parenthood regional director Mary Kogut. The contempt measure was sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.

Missouri Capitol building
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The only task the Missouri General Assembly is required by law to accomplish has been accomplished and, for the second year in a row, accomplished two weeks before deadline.

Lawmakers have sent a roughly $27.2 billion state budget to Gov. Jay Nixon that increases spending on higher education as a whole, while specifically cutting funding from the University of Missouri System.

Mary Kogut
Provided by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, is initiating contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, for failing to release subpoenaed documents.

Last November, the Missouri Senate demanded six years of documentation about Planned Parenthood’s disposal procedures for fetal tissue. On Tuesday, a state Senate panel discussed two resolutions sponsored by Schaefer (SR 1794 & SR 1793) that summon Kogut and Dr. James Miller, owner of a pathology lab that analyzes fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, to testify before the Senate chamber at 10 a.m. on April 18. If charged with contempt before the Senate, they could face up to 10 days in jail.

The windows and the glass on the door of the Planned Parenthood clinic on South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis were shattered by a vandal on Saturday.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

When the Missouri state legislature returns from its recess, the Senate will consider a budget that includes language pulling all state funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates.

“The taxpayers in the state have made it very clear; they do not want their tax dollars going to support abortion services. That’s the purpose of the language,” said Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, as she defended the measure before it passed the House earlier this month.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards greets phone-bank volunteer Maxine Clark at Hillary Clinton's St. Louis campaign headquarters Sun. Mar. 13, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The president of Planned Parenthood says the effort in the Missouri legislature to bar abortion providers from receiving any funds from Medicaid is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Under existing law, state and federal funds can only cover abortions in the case of rape, incest or when it’s necessary to save a woman’s life.

s_falkow | Flickr

The past year was a landmark one for many legal issues—both nationally and locally. On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” our monthly Legal Roundtable convened to discuss the legal decisions (or lack thereof) which had the most impact on 2015. They also looked ahead to 2016.

Joining the show:

On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air” the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri had one thing to say about her clinics’ services going forward after a gunman opened fire on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Nov. 27:

"We're going to be here every single day,” said Mary Kogut.  “We're going to continue to have our doors open.”

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The past year was full of watershed political moments in St. Louis and the state of Missouri, but what will have the greatest implications for 2016? On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh picked the brains of two people who know best: St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum, political reporters and hosts of the podcast Politically Speaking

Planned Parenthood supporters rally in 2015 outside the agency's clinic in St. Louis after a mass shooting at a clinic in Colorado Springs.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

More than a hundred people gathered in a crowd of pink signs outside Missouri’s only active abortion clinic Saturday in midtown St. Louis. Abortion services in Columbia are in limbo.

Standing in a large circle inside a gated parking lot on the corner of Boyle Avenue and Forest Park Avenue, the group of 120 – 150 held a moment of silence to reflect on the Black Friday shooting that left three dead and nine injured at Colorado Springs’ Planned Parenthood clinic.

Kurt Schaefer 2014 mo senator gop dist 19 columbia
Official photo

Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican candidate for attorney general, suspects that a disparaging story in Middle East-based Al Jazeera may be tied to a death threat that has prompted him to temporarily close his office in the state Capitol.

Schaefer, R-Columbia, said in an interview Tuesday night that the  article by Al Jazeera's U.S. affiliate – which appeared online last week -- contained “inflammatory stuff” as part of its critical coverage into his recent probes of ties between the University of Missouri and Planned Parenthood.

A colony of embryonic stem cells, from the H9 cell line. The cells in the background are mouse fibroblast cells. Only the colony in the center are human embryonic stem cells.
Ryddragyn | English Wikipedia -

Nine years after Missouri voters approved protections for embryonic stem cell research, the issue has re-emerged as a hot topic in Jefferson City and among next year’s candidates.

A key factor: Missouri Right to Life – a longstanding opponent of embryonic stem-cell research – is linking the issue to its opposition to Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri’s only abortion clinics.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri House committee is putting together recommendations that could place further restrictions on abortion providers, namely Planned Parenthood.

Several Republican lawmakers began brainstorming various proposals toward the end of a public hearing Wednesday at the State Capitol.

They included random inspections of any facility that performs abortions, including hospitals.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Planned Parenthood's St. Louis clinic is complying with Missouri law regarding fetal tissue, so says Attorney General Chris Koster.

In a report released Monday, Koster says the evidence reviewed by his investigators lines up with Planned Parenthood's statements that the organization is properly disposing of fetal tissue, and that there is "no evidence whatsoever" that the St. Louis clinic is selling fetal tissue.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin
Official photo

The divisions among House Republicans over the funding of Planned Parenthood that contributed to Speaker John Boehner’s decision to step down next month will not force a government shutdown this week, according to Ballwin Republican Ann Wagner.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Verbal fireworks punctuated the latest round of hearings by a Missouri Senate committee investigating Planned Parenthood's operations in the state, which included accusations and denials that Republicans on the committee are conducting a "witch hunt."

Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, began by stating that Tuesday's hearing was reserved for comments from the public, which turned out to be top-heavy with official representatives from several anti-abortion groups and one citizen speaking on behalf of the National Organization for Women.

Patients entering the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis are often greeted by a line of protesters.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio | File Photo

Congressional hearings on Planned Parenthood will deal with abortion in general, as well as funding for that specific organization.

Melissa Ohden, of Gladstone, Mo., says she wasn’t supposed to be alive today. Instead, she says she was supposed to have been aborted 38 years ago this month. Ohden is scheduled to tell members of the House Judiciary Committee today that her biological mother, then a teenager, was “forced" to undergo a saline infusion abortion.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The last time the Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life met, members threatened to hold a Nixon administration official in contempt unless she produced documents identifying which hospital had a working relationship with Columbia's Planned Parenthood clinic.

That became a moot point when Department of Health and Senior Services Director Gail Vasterling sent the committee a letter stating that Colleen McNicholas, M.D., had received admitting privileges from University of Missouri Health Care.

Department of Health and Senior Services Director Gail Vasterling
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

A Missouri Senate committee is threatening legal sanctions against a member of Gov. Jay Nixon's cabinet after the first day of hearings into the operations of Planned Parenthood in Missouri.

Committee chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, on Thursday asked Department of Health and Senior Services Director Gail Vasterling to disclose the name of the hospital that has a working agreement with Planned Parenthood's Columbia clinic.  Vasterling refused.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Senate Republicans plan to vote on legislation next week stripping nearly $540 million from Planned Parenthood following the release of undercover videos that appear to show organization officials talking casually about selling fetal tissue and organs. Those videos, released by an anti-abortion group, have outraged abortion opponents and ignited a swift response on Capitol Hill.

Attorney General Chris Koster, left, and Missouri Sen. Tom Dempsey have announced separate investigations of Planned Parenthood operations in the state.
official photos

Underscoring the political power of the abortion issue in Missouri, Attorney General Chris Koster’s announcement that he has “opened an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood clinics in Missouri have violated state law” touched off a series of actions on both sides.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

For the past eight years, Missouri has had a 24-hour wait rule for abortions: Women seeking to end a pregnancy must visit a clinic for an initial health consultation before waiting 24 hours to have the procedure.

On Friday, a new state law goes into effect that triples the wait time. The law includes no exemptions for rape or incest, which is one reason Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed it. But the state legislature last month overrode his veto.

Paula Gianino is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Provided

   A new Missouri state law requiring women to wait 72 hours to have an abortion after their initial consultation is set to take effect Friday, and the state’s only abortion provider says it will not immediately appeal the measure in court.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, Paula Gianino, said attorneys for their national organization did not think an appeal would be successful in state or federal court.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Early drought exacting a toll on regional corn farmers

Extreme heat and drought are driving down what many farmers expected to be a bumper corn crop.  

Back in March and April, warm weather had Midwestern farmers planting corn at a record setting pace.

In Illinois alone, an estimated more than 13 million acres of corn were planted this year.  

Now, many growers are in full on damage control as record setting heat continues to drive down expected yields.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would allow employers to block insurance coverage for birth control, abortions and sterilizations, all for religious reasons, has passed a Missouri Senate committee.

The bill was filed in response to President Obama’s recent mandate that church-run institutions provide coverage for birth control – that mandate has since been amended to require insurers to provide coverage if a religious employer refuses to do so.  Bishop John Gaydos, representing Missouri’s Catholic bishops, spoke in favor of the bill.

(Flickr Creative Commons User meddygarnet)

The bill is sponsored by GOP House Member David Sater, who owned and operated a pharmacy in Barry County for 30 years.  He says it would not bar pharmacies from selling the so-called "morning after" pill, but would guarantee their right NOT to if the owners so choose.