Missouri Supreme Court to hear arguments Tuesday in key Planned Parenthood case

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MISSOURI — The Missouri Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday morning in Jefferson City in a key case involving the state’s legal dispute with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

The complicated legal case began when the Legislature appropriated money for fiscal year 2019, which prohibited expenditure of funds to any abortion facility. The sentence specifically reads “no funds shall be expended to any abortion facility as defined in Section 188.015, or any affiliate or associate thereof.”

The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS), through its Missouri Medicaid Audit and Compliance Unit, denied funding requests from Planned Parenthood, which appealed to the administrative hearing commission (AHC). The AHC ruled in the state’s favor.

However, St. Louis Circuit Judge David Dowd ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood, saying portions of the appropriations bill violated the state Constitution.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) and Solicitor General D. John Sauer have submitted a 32-page brief to the Missouri Supreme Court, outlining their case. Schmitt and Counselor Sauer say the trial court erred, and that the bill does not violate the single subject provision. They also say the trial court erred in taxing costs against the state of Missouri.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is being represented by Jefferson City attorney Chuck Hatfield, who’s submitted a 42-page brief to the Supreme Court.

Counselor Hatfield writes that Judge Dowd’s ruling should be affirmed. He says the appropriations bill violates the state Constitution, and says the Attorney General’s office is quoting opinions that “are neither binding nor persuasive.” Hatfield also says existing state law required the state to pay Planned Parenthood for physician and family planning services it provides to Missouri Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Supreme Court will hear the arguments Tuesday morning at 9:30 in Jefferson City. Missourinet managing editor Alisa Nelson will be covering the case.

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