Editorial Roundup: Missouri

Kansas City Star. April 30, 2024.

Editorial: Missouri Republicans already banned abortion. Now they’re targeting Planned Parenthood

Missouri Republicans are trying to ban abortion twice over.

Sound silly? It kind of is. Abortion has been illegal in the state ever since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, of course. If women want or need to terminate a pregnancy, they’re either out of luck or have to head out of state, perhaps next door to Kansas where the procedure remains legal if increasingly regulated.

For now, though, you can’t get a legal abortion in the Show-Me State, except in emergencies.

But that’s not quite enough for Republicans in Jefferson City. They voted last week to block Medicaid dollars from going to Planned Parenthood and its health care clinics across the state.

Why? Abortion of course.

“This is not health care,” said state Rep. Mazzie Christensen of Bethany. “These facilities should not be in our state and I’m sick and tired of hearing about it.”

Except, of course, health care is exactly what Planned Parenthood provides in Missouri. The organization didn’t go away just because abortion was banned. It still does breast and cervical cancer screenings, prenatal and postpartum care, along with tests for sexually transmitted diseases. And it even dispenses birth control.

Pretty important stuff, if you need it.

But no abortions. They’re illegal except when there is a “medical emergency” — a distinction that health care professionals are not using as a loophole. Only 52 of these cases occurred in the state from June 2022 through 2023, and none of the procedures were performed at Missouri Planned Parenthood clinics, according to the nonprofit Missouri Independent. Which means Missouri Republicans are trying to cut off funds to an organization that can’t actually do what it’s being defunded for.

Assuming that Gov. Mike Parson signs off on the bill, that means Missouri will be the rare state that has — in essence — banned abortions twice. It’s a pretty nifty trick, if you think about it. And maybe a pretty great thing, perhaps, if you’re anti-abortion rights.

If you’re a woman who just wants to get a cancer screening in places like Joplin or Rolla, though, life is going to get a bit more difficult.


A different reading of the defunding effort, though, is that Missouri Republicans want to make sure that abortion stays banned once.

Pro-choice activists, after all, are working to get signatures for their petition to put the issue on the ballot for a statewide referendum. Since Roe fell, similar statewide votes around the country — even in deep-red states — have consistently favored those who want to preserve or restore abortion access.

Missouri would probably get the same result. Republicans in the General Assembly know this. That’s why they’ve spent the last few months trying to gut the referendum petition process. They don’t want Missouri voters — the folks who ostensibly hold democratic power in the state — to actually have a say in whether abortion is legal or illegal.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is more of the same. Even if Missouri voters do restore abortion’s legality, Republicans will have taken a step to ensure abortion access remains constrained. The new measure is simply a way of heading the voters off at the pass.

“Missouri,” said state Rep. Brian Seitz of Branson, “will continue to be a pro-life state.”

Even if Missourians choose otherwise. So much for democracy.

Of course, there’s a third way of reading the defunding effort — which is that Missouri Republicans aren’t just trying to crack down on abortion in Missouri. They’re working to undermine Planned Parenthood nationwide.

The new bill “very much does what we initially intended it to do,” said state Rep. Cody Smith, who sponsored the original legislation, “which is to defund abortion providers and their affiliates.”

The affiliates? In Missouri. The providers? Not in Missouri. Which suggests that Missouri Republicans are eager to cut back on abortion access beyond this state’s borders.

That’s not really their job, though, is it?

So let’s sum up: The bill that defunds Planned Parenthood is bad for women’s health in Missouri. It’s bad for voter power. And it’s a sneaky-but-real example of legislative overreach.

Banning abortion once was bad enough. Banning it twice over, it turns out, is even worse.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 2, 2024.

Editorial: Bailey, Ashcroft and their party can’t stop lying about immigration debate

“Wildly irresponsible.” That’s how Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey last month described Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’ perfectly responsible invitation to legal migrants to his city to help alleviate its labor shortage.

In a made-for-Fox News stunt last month, Bailey issued a threatening letter to Lucas laced with dubious legal reasoning, partisan disinformation and a whiff of xenophobia. All of which is typical of Missouri’s most wildly irresponsible statewide officeholder.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a candidate for governor, took it a step further recently with a fundraising video in which he declares emphatically that Lucas “stated that he wanted to make Kansas City a ‘sanctuary city’” — an outright lie.

Now some legislative Republicans are getting in on the act, too, repeating that false narrative and threatening to strip Kansas City of all state funding. Talk about wildly irresponsible.

It all started in mid-April, in the context of two real problems: New York and other cities are having trouble absorbing the influx of legal migrants; and the Kansas City region, undergoing a building boom, is struggling with a labor shortage.

It was within that context that Mayor Lucas tweeted on April 16: “All are welcome in Kansas City. Proud to work with my fellow mayors (in Denver and New York) … to ensure decompression of new arriving communities and collaboration among cities, labor, non-profits, and federal officials.”

His post linked to a Bloomberg piece about Lucas’ invitation, which reports that the mayor “has a hunch that migrants with work permits (emphasis added) could help alleviate the labor shortage” in his region.

Clear as that is, Lucas clarified it further in a tweet the next day, specifying (again) that he was referring to “persons who are lawfully present, with lawful work permits, and the lawful ability to come to our community.”

Does anything about that sound “wildly irresponsible”?

Bailey’s letter to Lucas a day later — which the attorney general promptly, dutifully shared with Fox News — threatens unspecified “legal action” over Lucas’ comments. It quotes from statutes that make it illegal to transport undocumented migrants into Missouri or to employ them.

The letter acknowledges Lucas’ specification that he was talking about migrants who are “lawfully present, with lawful work permits.” But Bailey then dismisses that element as irrelevant because the federal government’s “open border programs are themselves illegal.”

In calling for the hiring of migrants with federally approved work permits, Bailey alleges, “you are actively encouraging Missouri businesses to become entangled in a fundamentally unlawful program.”

“Fundamentally unlawful” as decreed not by Congress or the courts, mind you, but by one unelected official in one Midwestern state.

That Missouri’s official state lawyer would posit such a baseless, head-spinning rejection of the bedrock constitutional principle of federalism is both unsettling and unsurprising. Whether from instinctive demagoguery or plain old incompetence, Bailey has shown repeatedly a willingness to flout whatever legal principles get in the way of his right-wing performance art as he seeks election to the position he was appointed to last year.

Bailey has more than earned another entry in our on-going “ Bailey Tally “ of the worst official offenses from Missouri’s very worst statewide officeholder. The updated list will be posted in Thursday’s opinion section of STLToday.com.

Secretary of State Ashcroft subsequently demonstrated why he may well be a close second to Bailey in terms of official mendacity among Missouri officeholders.

Since starting his gubernatorial campaign, Ashcroft has shown a distressing eagerness to abuse both his office and plain truth in his zeal to prevent a fair statewide vote on abortion rights and other hot-button issues. But the campaign fundraising video Ashcroft released trying to monetize the fake controversy over Lucas’ remarks was a startling exercise in deception even by those low standards.

“... I was so appalled when the mayor of Kansas City suggested — well, no, he even stated — that he wanted to make Kansas City a ‘sanctuary city,’” Ashcroft lied, looking directly into the camera.

Again: Lucas’ comments on welcoming migrant workers were specifically, explicitly in reference to legal residents with legal work permits. “Kansas City is not a sanctuary city,” Lucas reiterated to reporters after a recent Kansas City Council meeting. “Kansas City follows the laws of the state of Missouri,” which already prohibit any city in the state from becoming a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

That existing prohibition hasn’t stopped some Republicans in the Legislature from trying to make it an issue anyway, with threats to strip Kansas City of state funding if it becomes a sanctuary city. That whole legislative enterprise is as meaningless as it is pathetic. Because Lucas has explicitly rejected the very premise, they might as well pass a law prohibiting him from harboring vampires.

It’s all part of today’s GOP playbook in Missouri: In the absence of any constructive ideas, the party’s elected officials invent dragons to slay: Critical race theory! Woke! DEI!

And now the deliberate blurring of the line between legal and illegal migration in a calculated scheme to whip up hatred, fear and votes. That’s worse than “wildly irresponsible.”