Missouri, Planned Parenthood in Court

Missouri, Planned Parenthood in Court

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Government funding for Missouri Planned Parenthood clinics is at stake in a lawsuit set to be argued before the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

State attorneys are asking Supreme Court judges to back the Republican-led Legislature's decision to block funding from Planned Parenthood. The Attorney General's Office appealed to the high court after a lower court in June ruled the move was unconstitutional.

Republican lawmakers in Missouri for years have sought to stop any taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood, even clinics that do not provide abortions.

But legislators struggled with "loopholes" that allowed Planned Parenthood clinics that provide other healthcare to continue receiving funding. Abortion opponents finally succeeded in the fiscal year that ended in June after blocking funding to all abortion facilities.

Lawmakers were able to stop money from going to Planned Parenthood by forgoing some federal funding to avoid requirements that the clinics be reimbursed if low-income patients go there for birth control, cancer screenings and other preventative care. Missouri instead now uses state money to pay for those services.

Planned Parenthood argues that some of its chapters provide preventative health care and not abortion and shouldn't be financially penalized.

In written arguments to the Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood attorneys say lawmakers violated the Missouri Constitution by referencing another law defining "abortion facilities" in the budget. They also claim that the budget law did more than dole out money and unconstitutionally changed state policy.

The Attorney General's Office argues the budget was crafted within lawmakers' authority.

(KR)