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"I think it just shows how a lot of policymakers are out of touch with what the ordinary people want in their lives, and that we know that the majority of Missourians actually want policy makers to do more to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services and quit using family planning birth control contraception as a political football."

“When it comes to the safety net, we’re already at capacity and already have many holes,” Executive Director for the Missouri Family Health Council Michelle Trupiano said. “We don’t have enough resources to meet the demand across the state.”

“‘Defunding Title X will hinder critical access to family planning services at a time when reproductive healthcare is already in deep crisis,’ [Trupiano said.]”

“However, we know Opill will be cost-prohibitive for many,” Trupiano continued. “Which is why we need continued investment in safety net programs like the federal Title X family planning program to ensure equitable access to care for all.”

“I think this shows a disconnect from real people, their ordinary lives, and what they want, and what our lawmakers actually try to push forward," said Trupiano.

“We’re trying to do two things with this initiative: one is really to combat the misinformation around specifically emergency contraception and how it works, and that some folks still think that emergency contraception is illegal and then two, we want to get it into the hands of anyone who needs it so that they have it in their medicine cabinets in case of an emergency because this is a great backup method.”

“Patients are scared. They’re confused. They don’t know who to trust for accurate information,” Trupiano said. “Providers feel that they’re on very shaky ground, some even choosing to leave the state in order to fully practice without repercussions. And we’ve spent so much time combating that misinformation.”

“Patients are scared. They’re confused. They don’t know who to trust for accurate information. Providers feel they’re on very shaky ground,” said Michelle Trupiano, of the nonprofit Missouri Family Health Council.

It’s important to note that, while much of the Missouri public thinks birth control is illegal, most don’t want it to be. The same survey found that 84% of respondents, including 82% of Republicans, support access to birth control, and 72%, including 75% of Republicans, think the state should help make it more affordable.

"We knew that there is a deep confusion and misconceptions and misinformation around specifically emergency contraception," said Michelle Trupiano, Executive Director of Missouri Family Health Council.

Michelle Trupiano, the council’s executive director, blames the confusion over birth control on the fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling a year ago that removed the federally protected right to an abortion, setting off a wave of states banning or greatly restricting access to the procedure.

“Here in Missouri, we have seen different attempts to classify certain methods of contraception as an abortifacient and ban them from our Medicaid program," Trupiano said. "And that is just the beginning.”

“Really since the Dobbs ruling last summer,” Trupiano said in an interview with The Independent, “we realized that it was more important to combat misinformation and stigma about and to improve access to emergency contraception.”

“Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy,” Trupiano said. “It does not terminate a pregnancy. It is not medication abortion. All forms of contraception remain legal in Missouri.”

“We believe the need is too great to risk the federal approval for Missourians who need this care and coverage now,” Mandy Hagseth added.

“Insurance coverage is not the silver bullet to solve the maternal health crisis,” [Michelle Trupiano] said. “The system is broken, and it starts with institutional racism in terms of how Black and brown people are not being listened to when they are accessing health care. And so we need to come at it with multipronged solutions in order to really be able to achieve the outcomes.”

“We are very disappointed that once again, political ideology by a few members of the Senate is standing in the way of making that bipartisan, full support for postpartum folks happen,” Michelle Trupiano said.

Advocates and coalition members supporting the push in 2023 include [...] Missouri Family Health Council, among other organizations and individuals.

"There needs to be a culture shift to where folks are more open about talking about family planning services and the need for them," Michelle Trupiano says. "Especially in rural areas — some folks are uncomfortable about going to any health center for family planning services because they know people there, and they don't want people to know they're accessing them."

"We know that Missouri, over the last decade, has created an infrastructure that leaves Black and brown women out of basic health care, including access to family planning services," [Michelle] Trupiano said. "We know that the state has put up barriers and roadblocks at every opportunity."

The new service is part of a partnership with the Missouri Family Health Council, a federally funded agency that provides reproductive and sexual health care.

“It’s just very clear at this point that what we knew as the landscape of law and policy is now relatively untested and being referred back to the states,” Hagseth said. “We’re really in uncharted territory.”

Mandy Hagseth, director of policy and advocacy for Missouri Family Health Council Inc., said Missouri lawmakers have tried to wrongly reclassify emergency contraception as abortifacients and to try to prevent the state’s Medicaid program from covering them. Hagseth expects lawmakers to resurrect those attempts and more in the coming legislative session. “It’s not possible – it’s probable,” she said. “We have reason to believe they will make good on that threat.”

Chapel and Jefferson City NAACP Executive Committee member Julie Allen were joined by representatives from several Missouri organizations, including St. Louis OBGYN Dr. Mark Valentine, of the Missouri Abortion Fund, Mandy Hagseth, of Missouri Family Health Council, Inc., Kourtney Vincent Woodbury, of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Pro-Choice Missouri Policy Manager Maggie Olivia.

On the day the decision was announced – Friday, June 24th – Mallory Schwarz, the Executive Director of Pro-Choice Missouri, and Chimene Schwach, the Vice President of the Missouri Family Health Council Board, sat down with KBIA’s Rebecca Smith to discuss where abortion rights in the state go from here.

“It is important for everybody to have timely access, but especially for survivors of rape, so we want to make sure there is accurate information out there,” Trupiano says.

For Michelle Trupiano, an advocate for legal, safe reproductive health care, Friday began with a promising roundtable discussion on how to bolster abortion access in Missouri, a state with just one clinic. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Rep. Cori Bush were among the high-profile figures attending.

“I’m feeling dismayed that it’s 2022 and this is where we’re at,” Michelle Trupiano, executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council, said after the decision was released. “And I am scared for all of the people today and yet to come that all of a sudden don’t know what they’re going to do.”

“The attacks are relentless — any little angle they can chip away at what we do, they are doing it,” said Lisa Ecsi Davis, the clinic’s director of operations, who has worked at Tri-Rivers for 30 years. “It’s exhausting.”

“There are many at the political extreme who equate birth control with abortion,” said Michelle Trupiano, executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council, a private nonprofit that administers federal funding for family planning services in the state. “The attack on the full range of reproductive health care is going to continue.”

In a Senate committee hearing, the Missouri State Medical Association and Missouri Family Health Council testified for the bill. No residents spoke against it.

In 2021, the two Planned Parenthood health centers that participated in Missouri Family Health Council’s family planning services served 52% of the nearly 44,000 patients seen, said Michelle Trupiano, the nonprofit’s executive director.

“We remain hopeful that the state of Missouri will set ideology aside and work collaboratively with us to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care in Missouri,” Trupiano said. “MFHC will preserve the hallmarks of Title X: comprehensive, client-centered, non-directive health care for all clients, regardless of the ability to pay.”

Missouri Family Health Council Inc., serving 65 clinics statewide, continues to be the sole Missouri grantee to receive grants for the public health program (Title X). The council received $5.3 million.

The Missouri Family Health Council Inc. (MFHC) administers federal family planning dollars to clinics across the state, and in 2021 MFHC-funded sites provided family planning services to over 44,200 patients. More than half of those patients were served by Planned Parenthood, Michelle Trupiano, MFHC’s executive director, previously said.

With attacks on reproductive health services and rights on the rise in Missouri and across the nation, I believe St. Louis County’s efforts are a refreshing and welcome change.

Page’s order also directs the county health department to strengthen an existing partnership with the Missouri Family Health Council and seek other funding opportunities that would enhance the county’s contraceptive services.

Over half a dozen health care organizations, like the Missouri Center of Public Health Excellence, Missouri State Medical Association and Missouri Family Health Council, Inc., voiced their support for the proposal Tuesday, with no one testifying in opposition. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

"The safety net is already at capacity and stretched very thin, it can take weeks for patients to get an appointment, and we need all the providers working together to meet the needs," Trupiano observed. "All this ideological attack does is further the disparities that already exist in Missouri."

“Anytime that they are trying to limit providers, that has a very negative impact on the overall safety net,” Trupiano said, “And at the end of the day, the care that patients receive.”

"Missouri Family Health Council runs The Right Time initiative, which executive director Michelle Trupiano says is focused on giving everyone free access to reproductive healthcare.

'One of the goals of the initiative is really to reduce inequalities that people may face and some of those inequalities may be based on location, especially for rural Missourians,' Trupiano says."

"January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, a disease that can be greatly reduced, or even eliminated, by screenings, getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and raising awareness. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women."

“Our providers are stretched,” Trupiano said. “We know there is a crisis in our health care field.”

“This tactic to limit providers is in violation of Medicaid to begin with,” said Michelle Trupiano, the executive director of Missouri Family Health Council Inc., which administers federal funds for family planning services.

"But our state’s elected officials are once again playing politics with it through the implementation of new regulations that attack Planned Parenthood, a vital family planning provider. Eliminating such a significant, high-volume provider will have a detrimental effect on all health care providers and those who seek care."

I am among the majority of Missourians who voted in favor of expanding Medicaid in 2020. I am also among the majority of Missourians astounded by the legislative maneuvers and litigation saga that followed, even after the people had spoken on the issue.

Seventy-six percent of Missouri residents, including large majorities across the political spectrum, believe the state legislature should increase access to birth control for Missourians, according to a new public opinion survey.

"Missouri being party to this lawsuit doesn’t change the need for high-quality, patient-centered family planning services or the many barriers Missourians face accessing healthcare," said Michelle Trupiano, executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council.

Sunday was World Contraception Day, an annual celebration to improve awareness of birth control and enable individuals to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. During a standard year, it’s a time to reflect on the transformative impact of birth control. But this year – after the Missouri legislature risked destabilizing the entire state budget to eliminate IUDs and emergency contraception from the state Medicaid program – it’s something else entirely: a cautionary tale.

On Sept. 26, the world will unite for a global event to raise awareness for protecting and improving access to family planning services that are vital for so many. World Contraception Day allows us to reflect on the ways society can continue to enable all people to make informed decisions regarding their health care.

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