Monday, March 28, 2011                                                                                  

Contact:  Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717



            HB213 (Jones, R-89), a bill that creates morally inappropriate and medically dubious new Government Intrusion in the doctor-patient relationship and the practice of medicine, was approved the day before spring break by a vote of 119-38. This bill would override the current law governing rarely sought abortions later in pregnancy.  Missouri physicians already meet rigorous standards when evaluating the potential viability of the pregnancy and health condition of the pregnant woman. When the Senate returns today, the leadership has indicated SB65 (Mayer, R-25)—the companion to HB213—will be on the priority list for floor debate.

PPMO opposes SB65 because of the harsh ramifications this dangerous legislation would have in the lives of couples like Danielle and Robb Deaver. Danielle’s water broke the day after Thanksgiving with four months of her pregnancy still to go.  Doctors told her the baby had a less than 10% chance of surviving delivery and less than 2% chance of ever managing basic functions, like eating. Danielle and Robb were devastated and they asked the doctors to induce labor early. However, since Danielle was healthy and the fetus still had a heartbeat, they didn’t fit the exceptions in the new Nebraska law and she was forced to continue the pregnancy, just as women would have to do under SB65.  Fetal complications are not a political or a partisan issue; they are a tragic fact of life for many women and couples with wanted pregnancies; perhaps it is time for Missouri politicians to slow down and consider the real impact of these intrusive bills.


            More than 1.4 million women in the United States have chosen to safely end an early pregnancy with a medical abortion (sometimes referred to as ‘RU486’) since the drug was approved by the FDA in 2000. At a time when the Missouri legislature should be focusing on creating jobs and fixing the economy, it is troublesome to find the legislature, once again, focused on restricting access to basic reproductive health care for women. HCS 28 (Sater, R-68), which started out as a bill that would protect pharmacies with employees who refuse to dispense contraception, was amended in committee—without a hearing—to include HB328 (Koenig, R-88), a bill that places such medically unnecessary and burdensome requirements on medical abortion as to virtually prohibit access in Missouri—clearly the intent of the legislation. The bill has now been sent to House Rules where we expect it to be sent to the floor for debate.  Representatives should vote NO.


            Freshman Representative Clem Smith (D-71) and 39 co-sponsors filed HB870, the Comprehensive Sex Ed bill. In school districts that voluntarily choose to teach sex education, the bill outlines certain requirements.  The specific curriculum—which must be age-appropriate and medically, factually accurate—and specific presenters would be chosen by the school district or schools, and parents would again be allowed to opt their children out of participating. The curricula must present abstinence from sexual activity as the “preferred choice of behavior as the only sure way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection” and must present the “latest medically factual information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods as a means to prevent pregnancy and to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases.”  The bill also includes teaching information about online sexual predators, the dangers of ‘sexting’, how to build good family communication, the perils of drugs and alcohol, and ways to avoid HPV and HIV.  PPMO applauds the 40 sponsors of the bill and would urge the Speaker to refer this to a committee where it will receive a serious hearing based on the merits, not ideology.


            In less than three weeks, a big pink touring bus with Stand With Planned Parenthood emblazoned on both sides, has made 18 stops in 11 states.  At each stop, Planned Parenthood supporters have come out in huge numbers to show support for Planned Parenthood and the thousands of preventive services PPMO Health Centers provide in our communities every day.  In just the time the bus has been touring, Planned Parenthood has provided:  200,000 STD tests, 45,000 Pap Smears, 41,400 Breast Cancer screenings, 116,000 cycles of birth control, and served almost 80,000 patients through the Title X Federal family planning program.

            At the 3 stops in Missouri—Springfield, Columbia, and St. Louis—close to 600 activists came out to greet the bus, make calls to our US Senators, and sign up for more volunteer activities.  On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, volunteers in these same cities delivered more than 9,000 postcards and petition signatures to the district offices of Senator Claire McCaskill to demonstrate support for her as she votes against efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and the Title X program. And, last week, PPAF ran this TV AD in mid-Missouri.


Republican stance against women's health issues is bad policy, bad politics

By Connie Morella | Baltimore Sun | March 23, 2011

From my 16 years of experience serving as a Republican congresswoman, I recognize the fact that our country is facing major economic difficulties. I also believe that today's times necessitate pragmatic approaches and sound policy that will help us fix our economy and create jobs — not partisan political tactics that defy common sense and are a threat to Americans' well-being. I cannot stand with my party leadership in their dual attempts to undermine women's health by eliminating the Title X national family planning program and prohibiting federal funding for Planned Parenthood. These efforts are bad policy and bad politics. Not only are they based on shortsighted political posturing, but they would also have a devastating impact on women's health. Impressively, Planned Parenthood provides preventive health care to 3 million mostly low-income people annually. For many of them, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider they see. And this extreme proposal would not only directly impact the millions of women Planned Parenthood sees, but it would undermine the country's public health safety net.

The reality of the proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding is that it would cut off millions of women from receiving preventive health care, such as lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, and STD testing and treatment (including HIV testing). That's where Planned Parenthood's federal funding goes. While House leadership says that its dangerous proposals are about lowering our deficit and reducing abortion, its actions are in fact a detriment to both goals. Let me be clear, federal law already prohibits federal funding from going toward abortion. So, the notion that this extreme proposal is about preventing federal dollars from funding abortion is bogus. In addition, family planning programs like Title X and what Planned Parenthood offers effectively reduce instances of abortion by providing contraception and education to millions of women. Each year, Planned Parenthood's services prevent more than 600,000 unintended pregnancies. The proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds will have zero impact on the budget, since it is not a budget cut. It simply prohibits a health care provider from receiving federal dollars and participating in federal health programs. More broadly, family planning services have been shown to be a good investment. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that for every dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save nearly $4. Put another way, eliminating the national family planning program will result in higher costs, not lower costs.

Attacking Planned Parenthood is not just bad policy, its bad politics. It's a well-known political axiom that independent women voters sway elections. Well, independent women voters also oppose attacks on Planned Parenthood and on efforts to undermine access to women's health. They understand that these extreme proposals have nothing to do with the deficit and will result in more women losing access to preventive health care. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month found that 53 percent of Americans — as well as 56 percent of women overall and 60 percent of women ages 18 to 49 — believe it is "mostly or totally unacceptable" to "eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and preventive health services."

The proposal to defund Planned Parenthood may help with the social conservative base, but it comes at great expense with key women voters and young voters.

Shortsightedness is what caused our country's economic mess in the first place. Let's not repeat this mistake by choosing ideological victories over good policy that also makes political sense for the long haul.

If my fellow Republicans want to be on the right side of women voters, they will reject the extreme proposal to defund Planned Parenthood and focus on the important task of fixing the economy.

Connie Morella is a former congresswoman from Maryland's 8th district. She served as the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Ms. Morella currently serves as an Ambassador in Residence for American University's Women in Politics Institute.



Welcome and briefing in House Hearing Room 6 at 10:00am