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Ohio Dems Launch Effort To Repeal Women's Health Restrictions in State Budget

Ohio Dems Launch Effort To Repeal Women's Health Restrictions in State Budget

September 25, 2013 — Democratic Ohio Reps. John Carney and Kathleen Clyde plan to introduce legislation that would repeal state budget restrictions they say will harm women's health care, the Columbus Dispatch reports (Felser, Columbus Dispatch, 9/25).

The budget, set to take effect at the end of the month, includes a provision that requires abortion clinics to secure a transfer agreement with a private hospital and prohibits them from making such arrangements with public hospitals.

The budget also requires physicians to perform an abdominal ultrasound prior to an abortion and tell the woman if a heartbeat is detectable. Physicians also must explain the likelihood that the fetus would survive if the pregnancy continues. The bill defines a fetus as "developing from the moment of conception."

In addition, the budget reprioritizes which providers may receive federal family planning money in a way that effectively cuts off $1.4 million from Planned Parenthood. However, the budget does provide funding for antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers, which critics argue give women medically inaccurate information. The legislation allows public funding for rape crisis clinics to be suspended if they counsel victims on abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/23).

Lawmakers Divide Along Party Lines

In a meeting with women's health advocates on Tuesday, Carney said, "Women do not need nor do they want any government to make medical decisions for them."

Clyde criticized the way the provisions were added to the budget, saying, "There were no hearings about many of these provisions that were shoved into the budget at the eleventh hour, in the dark of night, with no opportunity for public input."

Democratic lawmakers have accused House Republicans of trying to quash the discussions by rejecting their request to use State House facilities for meetings about the issue. Democrats also said Republicans prevented Ohio Government Telecommunications from broadcasting an informal hearing on the provisions last week.

House GOP spokesperson Mike Dittoe defended his party, saying that the telecommunications group did not air last week's meeting because of its policy to not broadcast hearings.

Meanwhile, Ohio Right to Life criticized Democrats for not allowing abortion-rights opponents to speak at their events, although they did attend (Columbus Dispatch, 9/25).