How Missouri helps abortion opponents divert state taxes to crisis pregnancy centers

Abortion foes praise the centers for supporting women and presenting alternatives to ending pregnancies. But critics say facilities mislead women by appearing to offer clinical services and unbiased advice

By: - June 6, 2022 1:42 pm

Protestors in front of the U.S. Supreme Court shortly after a draft opinion was leaked that would have overturned Roe v. Wade (Robin Bravender/States Newsroom).

This story was originally published by ProPublica.

In the final days of Missouri’s legislative session in May 2019, lawmakers turned their focus to a bill that would outlaw abortion in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The abortion ban passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Parson remains in limbo, at least for now. A leaked draft opinion suggests the high court is preparing to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling, which would trigger bans in Missouri and about a dozen other states.

But another piece of the same Missouri bill that has garnered far less attention has already taken effect. It has funneled millions of tax dollars to fight abortion, and it may well move tens of millions of dollars more to that battle — a drain on state revenues that legislative oversight officials failed to forecast.

That provision beefed up tax credits for Missouri taxpayers who donate money to pregnancy resource centers, or crisis pregnancy centers. Abortion foes praise the nonprofit centers for supporting women and presenting alternatives to ending pregnancies, but supporters of abortion say the facilities mislead women by appearing to offer clinical services and unbiased advice.

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Jeremy Kohler
Jeremy Kohler

Jeremy Kohler is a reporter covering issues in the Midwest. He came to ProPublica from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he worked for more than 20 years. As an investigative reporter there, he produced projects that exposed fraud and abuse in policing, prisons, pension systems, hospitals and courts. For the past three years, his coverage has focused on St. Louis County government and politics, where he contributed to an investigation into corruption that triggered a federal probe and ended up with the county executive going to prison.

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