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Amid FRA renewal drama, female senators broker deal on birth control language

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Negotiations on abortion language tied to FRA reauthorization largely fell apart throughout the day, but one coalition of senators was successful in brokering a deal: a bipartisan group of women. 

Nearly every female senator on both sides of the aisle met Friday to discuss a provision in the FRA reauthorization package that would exclude certain medications from Medicaid coverage “when used to induce an abortion.” Concerns were levied that women who use Medicaid could be prevented from accessing birth control or emergency contraceptives because of the way the drugs and devices were listed out in the bill. 

The senators brought their concerns to Sen. Paul Wieland — who has championed the issue of excluding abortifacients from Medicaid coverage throughout the FRA reauthorization fight — and he agreed with them. The original language he put forth, in fact, just addressed drugs or devices that induce abortions, but it changed to a listed format after talks with the Governor’s Office and House, a spokesperson for the senator said. 

The Senate bill originally up for debate Friday specifically said Plan B, IUDs, and other drugs and devices would be excluded from Medicaid coverage “when used to induce an abortion.” 

The substitute senators passed early Saturday morning just said “family planning services shall not include abortions or any abortifacient drug or device that is used for the purpose of inducing an abortion” except in instances when the woman’s life is at stake. 

“There is probably nothing that couldn’t be solved if it was just us women,” said one senator who attended the meeting.