The Missouri legislature needs to finalize an agreement to accept major Medicaid funding from the federal government, but Republican lawmakers aren’t on the same page.
The fight is over birth control. Some GOP lawmakers want to ban coverage for certain contraceptive methods, including the Plan B pill and intrauterine devices, aka IUDs. Under an early draft of the legislation, the drugs were classified as “abortifacients.”
Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an obstetrician-gynecologist with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, told St. Louis on the Air that classifying those drugs as abortifacients is not just misleading, but inaccurate.
“An abortifacient is only a medication that can interrupt an established pregnancy. None of the medications that have been included here — the progestin levonorgestrel or the medication Ella also called ulipristal acetate, or even our IUDs — none of these medications interrupt an already established pregnancy. So by definition, it is not true that these are abortifacients,” she said.
“This is an intentional and dangerous conflation of abortion-inducing medications and medications we use for birth control or other gynecologic disorders.”
McNicholas joined Monday’s St. Louis on the Air to clarify the various methods of birth control available today and what makes them different from the abortion pill (the common name for using two different medicines to end a pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol). She also offered perspective on how medical providers see the debate over birth control playing out in the political arena.
“These are medications and interventions that are used by OB-GYNs, family medicine physicians and women's health nurse practitioners across the spectrum. This is not actually controversial in the field of sexual and reproductive health. It only becomes controversial when there is this intentional conflation of what it means to induce an abortion and what it means to prevent pregnancy.”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.