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Ohio Senate Passes Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood

Ohio Senate Passes Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood

October 22, 2015 — The Ohio Senate voted 23-10 on Wednesday to advance legislation (SB 214) that would defund Planned Parenthood clinics in the state, Reuters reports.

A House committee has been assigned companion legislation.

Background

According to Reuters, state lawmakers are seeking to defund Planned Parenthood following a series of videos targeting Planned Parenthood released by an antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress (Palmer, Reuters, 10/21). CMP secretly filmed the videos by meeting with Planned Parenthood staff while posing as buyers of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/20).

Meanwhile, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America earlier this month announced that it no longer would accept reimbursements for the cost of its fetal tissue donation program (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/14). Further, according to a Planned Parenthood official in the state, the organization does not participate in a fetal donation program in Ohio. Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio has 27 clinics in the state, including three facilities that provide abortion care. Overall, PPGO serves about 80,000 patients (Sanner, AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/21).

Bill Details

The Ohio bill would cut $1 million in public funding for Planned Parenthood (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/1). Specifically, under the bill, organizations that provide or advocate for abortion services, are affiliated with organizations that provide or advocate for abortion care, or have contracts with organizations that provide abortion services would not be eligible to receive the funding.

According to the AP/Sacramento Bee, the state Department of Health distributes the funding, which is primarily federal, via grants to programs for breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV testing, and programs on infant mortality. The "overall amount" of funding would remain intact under the bill, but it would be redirected to other organizations, the AP/Bee reports.

Comments

PPGO CEO Stephanie Kight noted that the bill would leave the organization with almost no funding for health education and prevention programs. According to Kight, the Ohio DHS awarded Planned Parenthood over other applicants because PPGO was "the most effective and efficient providers of those grants" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/21). She added that thousands of patients would no longer receive preventive services if the measure is enacted (Reuters, 10/21).

According to the AP/Bee, at the state Senate hearing, opponents of the bill also noted that the funding cuts could reduce access to necessary health care resources, such as pregnancy prevention services (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/21). Further, state Sen. Edna Brown (D) said the cuts would have the most severe effect on low-income Ohioans, noting, "There is no one, no one but Planned Parenthood in poor and African-American communities" (Reuters, 10/21).

Separately, Kelli Arthur Hykes, director of public health policy for Columbus Public Health, said, "With paramount goals of increasing women's health, decreasing infectious disease and reducing infant mortality, we are afraid that prohibiting funding and collaboration with Planned Parenthood will make achieving these goals more difficult" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/21).