Clinics that provide contraception and checkups for about 70,000 uninsured Missouri women may lose state funding next fiscal year, if they give patients information about abortion.
An amendment in the state budget, expected to be finalized next week, bars the Missouri Women’s State-Funded Health Services Program from covering care by a doctor or clinic that offers abortion services, as defined by a state law for sex education. That includes those that provide abortion referrals. The provision is an expansion of a rule passed last year, which cut organizations that provide abortions out of the program and cost Missouri $8.3 million in federal funding.
“This amendment goes much farther and could actually decimate the entire family planning network,” said Michelle Trupiano, executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council. “When you start eliminating providers and restricting who can say what, at the end of the day you’re going to restrict access.”
Trupiano’s organization dispenses federal Title X funds to 71 clinics for family planning services throughout Missouri, including federally qualified health clinics and Planned Parenthood. A 2007 rule requires Title X recipients to tell pregnant women about all of their options in a neutral manner upon request. That includes prenatal care, adoption, and abortion — discussions that could force these providers out of the state’s program, Trupiano said.
“Title X providers or really any health care provider that gives information and full access of information to women would no longer be able to participate in the program," Trupiano said. "At the end of the day that limits access for women."
Lobbyist Sam Lee, director of the anti-abortion group Campaign Life Missouri, said the difference between counseling and referral is clear.
“I have no qualms with a counselor having a discussion with a pregnant client about her options,” Lee said. “The difference is to then go ahead and tell her, OK, if you want an abortion, here is the name, address, website, phone number of the nearest abortion clinic. That’s crossing the line.”
The Missouri amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, did not respond to a request for comment. However, he has said on the House floor that his provision is intended to eliminate any taxpayer support of abortions.
Under federal law, Title X grants cannot be used to pay for abortion services.
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