April 19, 2012 — Ohio House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a proposal that would create a new system to prioritize distribution of federal family planning funds, a move that would effectively reduce the money Planned Parenthood and other groups providing abortion care receive, the Columbus Dispatch reports (Siegel, Columbus Dispatch, 4/18). The proposal was introduced as an amendment to a mid-biennium budget bill proposed by Gov. John Kasich (R), according to AP/NECN (AP/NECN, 4/17).
Under the proposal, local public health departments would receive funding priority, followed by community health centers that meet federal requirements, then private primary care centers and lastly, Planned Parenthood and other independent family planning centers, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
"We refer to it as defunding Planned Parenthood because a lot of the money, in fact, will go to the top three (categories), but it doesn't preclude Planned Parenthood at the end of the day from receiving money," said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.
However, Gary Dougherty, state legislative director of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio, said there is nothing wrong with the current competitive funding process and that the proposal is intended to ensure there are no funds left for his organization.
According to Dougherty, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio received about $1.7 million in federal family planning funds last year, which it used to provide women with family planning services to prevent unintended pregnancies. Federal law prohibits Planned Parenthood from using federal money for abortion services.
Gonidakis argued that women have options for care other than Planned Parenthood clinics, but Dougherty noted that many public health departments are moving away from providing family planning services or have opted to contract with Planned Parenthood to do so (Columbus Dispatch, 4/18).
Hearings on the bill are scheduled to continue Thursday (AP/NECN, 4/17).