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This May, we observe Sex Ed for All month, a campaign highlighting the critical need for equitable and accessible sexuality education for all young people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in public health for the public good. The backbone of the public health sector always has been, and always will be, nurses.

The Missouri legislature returned from its annual spring break and wasted no time putting the health care of almost 1 million Missourians in jeopardy. The Senate recently added an anti-birth control amendment to a mandatory Medicaid spending bill, which prohibits the program from providing some forms of birth control. This restrictive and dangerous amendment is a direct attack on those seeking family planning services and even threatens our whole Medicaid funding by putting the program out of compliance with federal law. Additionally, the legislature added unlawful language to the budget that prevents patients from seeing the provider of their own choice, further threatening Missouri's Medicaid funding.

We at the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis were stunned to learn that Missouri state Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, recently offered an amendment that will do unprecedented harm to our state’s mandatory Medicaid funding bill. Though his intention was to make it even more difficult to obtain an abortion in Missouri, under his amendment, any Food and Drug Administration-approved medication or device that would destroy or prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus would be prohibited.

While playing politics with healthcare in Missouri is certainly nothing new, holding Missouri Medicaid hostage over basic birth control is a stunning — and consequential — shift.

Public health leaders have been working day and night to respond to the coronavirus. But it is not all they do. Mid-Missouri public health organizations promote well-being in a variety of ways; but a global pandemic still takes precedence.

A month ago, President Joe Biden’s administration issued an executive memorandum on women’s health. Among other things, the memo directed the Department of Health and Human Services to review and consider rescinding Donald Trump-era regulations for the Title X federal family planning program. A month ago, this was an adequate — even celebratory — first step. But too much is on the line to wait any longer. Missouri needs relief now.

"As Executive Director of the Missouri Family Health Council, which helps to provide low- and no-cost reproductive health care across the state, Michelle Trupiano is used to navigating a challenging political environment. 'I’m from Missouri, I work in Missouri, and Missouri’s a conservative state where our providers, in general, are used to an onslaught of attacks on reproductive health,' she said."

“We’re disappointed the Biden administration did not suspend the dangerous Title X ‘gag rule,’” read a statement by Michelle Trupiano, the executive director of Missouri Family Health Council, which is the sole Title X grantee for the state. “But we’re encouraged that the President has placed such an emphasis on access to quality, affordable healthcare so early in his term.”

The state of Missouri is, once again, playing politics with reproductive and sexual health care, trying to restrict access to highly qualified and experienced providers in its Medicaid family planning program.

Does anyone really support the notion that decisions about women’s health should be made by their employers? Unfortunately, the Supreme Court does.

Planned Parenthood and Spectrum Health Care in Columbia have joined a network that provides free or low-cost contraceptive services to women in Missouri.

Ten months into a six-year, $20 million effort to expand contraceptive access in Missouri, some 9,000 patients have obtained some form of birth control, totally free — and not a dime of it is government money…

Family planning officials in states with anti-choice restrictions see the new Title X rules as yet another barrier to health care for people with low incomes…

Family planning clinics that take Title X funding are banned from referring patients for abortions…

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