State aims to ban payments to Planned Parenthood

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The state of Mississippi may no longer pay for services received from Planned Parenthood after the Mississippi House passed Senate Bill 2238 Tuesday morning by a 77-37 vote.

The proposal prohibits the state’s Division of Medicaid from reimbursing Planned Parenthood. The Senate passed its version in early March.

Because the bill was held on a motion to reconsider, Tuesday’s vote is not final. After final action, the House version will go back to the Senate for concurrence or to be sent to a House/Senate conference committee to iron out differences.

The measure was a response to a national firestorm in 2015 when anti-abortion activists captured video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the procurement of fetal tissue. Those activists, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt,were subsequently charged for their roles in videotaping the Planned Parenthood representatives.

“The last thing I want to do is stand before (God) with blood on my hands,” said Rep.

Rep. Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville

Gil Ford Photography

Rep. Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville

Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville, during debate on the bill Tuesday, referring to his opposition to abortion.

Mississippi has one Planned Parenthood clinic, located in Hattiesburg, which does not perform abortions. Opponents of the bill say that defunding Planned Parenthood amounts to little more than political posturing by pro-life politicians, citing the fact that the state paid out approximately $544 to Planned Parenthood last year.

“This is the biggest much ado about nothing I’ve seen all year and we’ve seen a lot of much ado about nothing,” said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, a former chairman of the Public Health Committee.