COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A top Democratic state lawmaker from Republican-led Missouri on Wednesday wrote to the Democratic Illinois and Kansas governors asking for help paying for abortions for out-of-state Medicaid patients.
Missouri House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade called on Illinois and Kansas to apply for Medicaid waivers to cover abortions for out-of-state patients.
Her request came after Democratic President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday aimed in part at making it easier for women seeking abortions to travel between states to obtain access to the procedure.
The directives will allow states that have not outlawed abortion to apply for Medicaid waivers that would help them treat women who’ve traveled from out of state.
The waivers only apply in cases of rape, incest and medical emergencies.
“Though these exceptions are narrow, we believe that this executive order is still meaningful for Missouri patients who are experiencing a life-threatening healthcare situation or whose pregnancy was forced by the violence of rape or incest," Quade wrote in a letter to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas legislative leaders.
Spokespeople for Kelly and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker did not immediately respond to Associated Press requests for comment on the federal waiver and Quade's request.
Kansas has yet to expand its Medicaid program in line with the federal Affordable Care Act because of the strong opposition of Republican leaders to former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy. Because Kansas doesn’t allow citizens to initiate ballot questions, that decision has stood, even though many lawmakers and advocates contend it’s widely unpopular.
Crossing state lines to get abortions has become an increasing issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and opened the door for new restrictions on abortion at the state level.
The National Abortion Federation said Wednesday that it’s seen more women asking for help traveling to get the procedure in the month after the decision. The organization paid for 76 hotel rooms and booked 52 bus or plane trips, up from only a handful in the same time period last year.
Missouri outlawed abortion minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The only exception is to save the life of the mother.
Abortion is legal in neighboring Illinois as well as Kansas, where voters on Tuesday opted to keep the right to abortions enshrined in the state's Constitution. Kansas voters rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten abortion restrictions or ban the procedure outright.
Missouri Democrats have sought to take advantage of abortion access just across state lines.
St. Louis' Democratic Mayor Tishaura Jones last month signed a measure providing $1 million for travel to abortion clinics in other states, prompting Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to sue.