Last month, Gov. Phil Bryant approved legislation that will prohibit the Mississippi Division of Medicaid from reimbursing Planned Parenthood Federation of America for family planning services or any other related purposes.
Mississippi Senate Bill 2238 will affect facilities that provide abortions performed when the life of the mother is not endangered by the pregnancy, as well as any entity that maintains or operates a facility where such an abortion can be performed.
Originally written to prohibit Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, the final version of the bill prohibits Medicaid payments to any facility that provides elective abortions or any entity affiliated with abortion providers.
Felicia Brown-Williams, regional director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said in The Clarion Ledger that the affiliation language used in the bill targeted Planned Parenthood.
“Our structure at Planned Parenthood Southeast is we’re a Planned Parenthood affiliate,” she said. “That language was to make sure it targeted us without naming us.”
The only Planned Parenthood clinic in Mississippi does not perform abortions and is located in Hattiesburg. Moreover, less than $600 from Medicaid has gone to the clinic in the past five years. Consequently, many view the bill as a waste of time.
“The very idea to even waste the time of the Legislature with a piece of insignificant legislation
like this,” said Representative Steve Holland, D-Plantersville in exasperation.
However, the bill will affect the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which does provide abortions and is the only such provider in the state.
WHO Director Shannon Brewer said the clinic’s attorneys are reviewing the bill to determine ramifications.
Meanwhile, the clinic is in the process of trying to administer intrauterine devices and birth control to Medicaid patients.
According to the Associated Press, the bill is modeled after one from Texas and grew out of videos produced by abortion opponents that suggested Planned Parenthood was profiting from selling body parts of aborted fetuses. Although an investigation and subsequent indictment revealed that was not the case, some representatives still hold Planned Parenthood accountable.
Gunnar Thorderson, Chapter President of the non-profit group Young Americans for Liberty, believes governments focus on paying for the wrong services.
“Women want the choice to have control over their bodies,” he said in a public Facebook post. “In cases where they didn’t sign up to 9 months of grueling pain and social stigma, shouldn’t there be a way out? Abortions are an unnecessary fix for an often avoidable problem. The government shouldn’t be paying for abortions. It should be paying for contraceptives and adoption services.”
“You are the company you keep, and by Mississippi reimbursing Planned Parenthood through Medicaid, we are keeping that company,” said Senate Medicaid Committee Chairman Brice Wiggins.
Wiggins said Mississippi has reimbursed Planned Parenthood less than $1,000 for each of the past five years, only “on occasion for family planning services such as birth control.”