June 25, 2013 — The Ohio Legislature is advancing a budget bill with language that would place family planning clinics last in line for federal and state funding, NPR's "All Things Considered" reports.
The bill would prioritize local health departments, emergency rooms and no-cost clinics ahead of independent family planning clinics, including those that do not offer abortions.
Mary Wynne-Peaspanen, executive director of Family Planning Association of Northeast Ohio, said the bill's proponents have "been very clear about the fact ... that their target is Planned Parenthood. But that doesn't change the fact that there are other organizations that will be impacted by this funding." Wynne-Peaspanen said it is unlikely there would be any funding left for the clinics under the tiered funding system.
Family planning clinics primarily serve low-income patients and provide a variety of health services, ranging from cancer and blood pressure screenings to contraceptive services.
Michael Gonidakis -- president of Ohio Right to Life, one of the groups that lobbied for the language -- said the bill would not reduce women's access to family planning services. "There's nowhere -- and I repeat, nowhere -- in the state of Ohio where there won't be other options in a very close walking proximity to … a clinic that may go out of business," Gonidakis said. He added, "We're doing some good things here in Ohio, and there's access to these types of services and care for low-income women across the state."
Ohio Move Compared With Texas
Some observers said that if approved, the Ohio language would put the state on a path similar to Texas, where lawmakers two years ago cut family planning funding, barred affiliates of abortion providers from participating in Medicaid and created a tiered financing system for providers.
The three-pronged approach forced more than 50 clinics throughout Texas to close, limiting women's access to family planning services. This year, state lawmakers restored some funding for family planning and other preventive care for low-income women ("All Things Considered," NPR, 6/22).