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Two PP sites were providing free health screenings for poor women through a state program.

Governor Blunt made the announcement at a Springfield visit to a health center. At Blunt’s request, the state Department of Health and Senior Services has ended the contracts with two Planned Parenthood programs in Springfield and Joplin.

Two other area organizations — Jordan Valley Community Health Center and Ozark TriCounty Health Care — will begin offering the screenings for breast and cervical cancer, Blunt’s office said.

“Patients should not have to go to an abortion clinic [sic] to access lifesaving tests,” Blunt said in a written statement.

But Planned Parenthood of Southwest Missouri said the clinics that participated in the program have never provided abortions.

Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson responded later that “philosophically Planned Parenthood is known as an abortion provider.”

The state health department said the Springfield site received $40,000 last fiscal year and the Joplin site got $27,000.

Overall, the screening program receives about $3 million in federal money and $70,000 in state funding, with the state share mainly for operational expenses, Blunt’s office said.

Republican officials and Planned Parenthood have fought for years over funding.

In August, Planned Parenthood affiliates won a roughly $900,000 victory when the Missouri Supreme Court ruled they did not have to repay family planning funds received against the will of the Legislature.

The 4-3 ruling capped a legal dispute that spanned several years as anti-abortion lawmakers tried to prevent state grants for family planning and other women’s health services from going to affiliates of abortion providers.

After gaining control of the Legislature, Republicans eliminated the family planning grants from the 2004 budget and have kept them out.

Blunt also proposed increasing the funding for the health screening program by $500,000.

The Show Me Healthy Women program provided screenings to nearly 8,000 women last year, and Blunt’s budget proposal could expand that by 1,225, his office said.

On the Net: Health Department:
Planned Parenthood:

[19March07, Kelly Wiese, AP, JEFFERSON CITY, MO;]