Ohio GOP Passes Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

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Ohio GOP Passes Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

Teddy Wilson

The bill was passed by the state senate with a 23-10 vote along partisan lines, after Republican lawmakers cancelled a scheduled hearing on the legislation to hurry the bill to the floor for a vote.

See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

Ohio’s Republican-majority senate passed a bill Wednesday that would ban Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal or state funds, marking the latest defunding attempt by GOP lawmakers after secretly recorded videos were published by an anti-choice front group that has seen its work widely discredited.

SB 214, sponsored by Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), would require the Department of Health to ensure that state funds and certain federal funds are not used “either to perform or promote nontherapeutic abortions, or to contract or affiliate with any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions.”

A “nontherapeutic abortion” is defined by state law as as an abortion that is performed or induced when the life of the mother would not be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or when the pregnancy was not the result of rape or incest reported to a law enforcement agency.

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Planned Parenthood and other abortion care providers would be banned from receiving federal funds through programs including the Violence Against Women Act, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act, the Minority AIDS Initiative, the Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative or infant vitality initiatives, and the Personal Responsibility Education Program.

The bill was passed by the state senate with a 23-10 vote along partisan lines, after Republican lawmakers cancelled a scheduled hearing on the legislation to hurry the bill to the floor for a vote.

Planned Parenthood received $3.7 million from the state during the last fiscal year, the majority of which was from Medicaid reimbursements. The organization received $1.3 million of that through other state-funded programs, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Anti-choice Ohio lawmakers justified the move to strip Planned Parenthood of public funds based on videos released by an anti-choice front group called the Center for Medical Progress. The videos, released in coordination with GOP lawmakers, feature heavily edited footage of surreptitiously taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced in July that his office would conduct an investigation into whether the state’s three Planned Parenthood centers that provide abortion services broke the law by “profiting from the sale of aborted babies.” The attorney general’s office has yet to release the results of any investigation. To date, investigations in several states have yet to uncover any evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken fetal tissue laws.

State lawmakers who opposed the bill argued that banning Planned Parenthood from receiving public funding would disproportionately impact low-income women and families, and communities of color.

“There is no one, no one but Planned Parenthood in poor and African-American communities,” Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo) said, reported Reuters.

Kelly Novak, director of education and outreach for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said that the organization focuses on serving marginalized communities.

“Many of our patients have said that we’re their only provider, so we go out of our way to provide both health care and education to underserved individuals,” Novak said, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

Senate President Faber said that the funds would be diverted from the 28 facilities operated by Planned Parenthood in the state, only three of which provide abortion services, to 300 alternative health-care providers and 50 Community Action Agencies across the state.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the legislation is about politics and not about ensuring Ohio residents have access to comprehensive reproductive health care.

“Politicians like Keith Faber would rather block access to these common-sense health care programs instead of allowing Planned Parenthood to provide them,” Copeland said.

Democratic lawmakers opposed the tactics used by Republicans to push through the legislation, including holding only two hearings on the bill instead of the standard of three hearings before a floor vote.

GOP state Sen. Bill Coley said another committee hearing would have slowed down the process. “We want to get it moving and get it enacted into law as quick as possible,” Coley told the Columbus Dispatch.

Lawmakers in Ohio have in recent years passed myriad legislation that has restricted access to reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood has already been banned from receiving state funding for family planning programs.

Ohio is just the latest in continued efforts in other Republican-led legislatures to defund Planned Parenthood—efforts that have been repeatedly blocked by federal courts.

A Texas agency announced Wednesday that it would ban Planned Parenthood from participating in its Medicaid program. That same day, a federal court blocked Louisiana’s attempt to ban Planned Parenthood from participating in the state’s Medicaid program.

Federal courts have blocked similar attempts to ban Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid participation in Arkansas and Utah. A lawsuit has also been filed by the organization to challenge a similar effort in Alabama.

The bill will now go to the state house for further considerations. A companion bill has been introduced in the state house and is awaiting a committee hearing.