A new, wide-ranging law in Missouri promises annual site inspections for abortion clinics, state-approved procedures in place for handling botched abortions, regulations effectively restricting the sale of the remains of aborted preborn babies, and new power for the state attorney general to prosecute those who break the law.

It was passed in a special session and quickly signed by the governor. It’s slated to take effect in October.

Mike Hoey, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, called it “the strongest pro-life law passed in many decades.”

Joe Ortwerth, executive director of Missouri Family Policy Council (MFFC), one of our 40 state-based allies, called the special session “extraordinary,” and was particularly impressed with the new inspection requirements.

“The investigation must be unannounced,” he explained, “and include a thorough review of the abortion clinic’s health and safety practices.”

MFFC revealed in 2014 that while existing state regulations had mandated an annual inspection of abortion clinics, state health officials had failed to conduct health and safety inspections in eight of the previous 14 years, citing “staff limitations.”

The Missouri Legislature pulled funding for Planned Parenthood from the state Medicaid budget. An amendment restricting $10.8 million in Medicaid reimbursements goes into effect July 1.

The language says Medicaid funds may not be disbursed to persons or entities that “perform or induce abortions, or encourage or refer for abortions which are not necessary to save the life of the mother.”

Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, one of Family Policy Alliance’s 40 state allies, said women will still receive care they need – there are 24 qualified health care centers compared to just 14 Planned Parenthood facilities.

“The 2018 budget also makes clear that the State of Missouri remains committed to providing maternal health care services to low-income women,” Ortwerth said. “The budget includes a $14 million appropriation to the Show-Me Healthy Babies Initiative. That program provides health insurance coverage for pregnant women and their children in families which are not eligible for Medicaid and cannot obtain health insurance coverage.”

Family Policy Alliance is proud of the hard work state ally Missouri Family Policy Council has done to get defunding pushed through. We’ll continue to work with other state groups and Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.

U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs ruled Missouri’s laws establishing health and safety standards for abortion clinics are likely unconstitutional. Sachs cited last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which said states cannot place restrictions that create an “undue burden” for women.

Missouri’s attorney general has vowed to appeal the ruling.

Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, one of Family Policy Alliance’s 40 state-based allies, sponsored one of the laws as a legislator and said the ruling has emboldened Planned Parenthood.

“Judge Sachs has demonstrated through this ruling his callous and cavalier disregard for the health of women who find themselves at the mercy of slipshod abortionists,” he said. “The laws struck down by Judge Sachs have been on the books for three decades in our state, and are consistent with reputable medical standards for outpatient surgical facilities.  Missouri currently has only one full-time abortion clinic that can meet those safety standards.  Now, we will see four new abortion clinics open in our state where the operators will have no obligation to provide responsible care to women who will often be victimized by unsafe and unsterile procedures.”

The ruling seems out of step at a time when more and more pro-life bills are being passed at the state level. Eric Teetsel, executive director of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, worries the ideology will spill over into his state.

“In the last several years, the Kansas Legislature has passed, and Gov. Sam Brownback has signed, at least 18 pro-life laws” he said. “Clearly, honoring the dignity of the unborn, safeguarding the health and safety of women, and preserving the rights of parents is of foremost importance to the citizens of our state. Yet, all too often, unelected judges have imposed their personal politics upon the voters. Such acts of raw judicial power are unjust and un-American.

“I stand with Gov. Greitens, Attorney General Hawley, and the people of Missouri as they push back against an example of such judicial activism in their state. May they prevail and provide a warning to judges elsewhere that the people will not stand by and watch as their will is ignored and undermined.”

Ask your lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood now.