State Senate Defies Abortion Rule Members Refuse to Finance Procedures in Rape and Incest Cases
Virginia Young Post-Dispatch Jefferson City Bureau, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
The state Senate wants Missouri to join the handful of states ignoring a federal order to pay for abortions for poor women in cases of rape or incest.
The Senate voted Thursday to enforce a state ban on using public money for abortions, except to save the life of the woman. The vote was 30-1.
"It's absolutely critical that we make it clear we're not going to use public money for abortions," said Sen. John Schneider, D-Florissant, the sponsor of the amendment.
The Senate put the amendment on a bill appropriating money for Medicaid, which covers the poor and disabled. The bill now returns to the House.
A spokesman for Gov. Mel Carnahan said the amendment would have little impact because the governor believes Missouri must follow federal law. The federal government could cut off all Medicaid money if states violate the requirement on abortion funding.
"We have about $1.2 billion at stake, and we feel we have to comply with the federal law," said Chris Sifford, the governor's spokesman.
He added that federal courts in several states are considering the issue and that Missouri is monitoring those cases. At least seven states have said they will disregard the federal order.
The federal government announced in December that state Medicaid programs should pay for abortions in cases of rape and incest. The Missouri Department of Social Services decided to obey the federal order. That move angered state legislators.
"Any change ought to be done by the Legislature, not in a sneaky way by some administrator," Schneider said Thursday.
Abortion dominated the Senate debate on the $11.8 billion state budget. Anti-abortion senators failed in three tries to cut off family planning money for Planned Parenthood. …