November 16, 2012 — The Ohio House Health and Aging Committee on Wednesday voted 13-9 to approve a bill (HB 298) that would reprioritize distribution of federal family planning money to effectively block funding to Planned Parenthood, the Columbus Dispatch reports (Engel, Columbus Dispatch, 11/15). The bill now goes to the House floor (Carr Smyth, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/14).
The legislation would create a priority system for distributing federal family planning funds, placing Planned Parenthood at the bottom of the list (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/13). If passed, funding to the organization would be reduced by 7% to 10%, or about $2 million, according to Stephanie Kight, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.
Before the vote, opponents of the bill testified that Planned Parenthood provides important services, such as cancer screenings and birth control. The federal funding cannot be used for abortion care, the Dispatch notes.
Kimberly Shepherd, a Columbus-based gynecologist, said that the bill "is not based on medical need," but, rather, an ideological agenda. State Rep. John Barnes (D) said that the bill targets certain populations, including low-income women and college students (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15).
Meanwhile, Committee Chair Lynn Wachtmann (R) argued that the bill would give other women's health care providers an opportunity to obtain the funds. "We have the potential of a lot bigger offering to a lot more women," he said.
Opponents of the bill gathered outside the Statehouse and in the hallway outside the committee's meeting to protest the measure. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Director Kellie Copeland said the protests will escalate if the bill advances (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/14).