Ohio Senate Approves Budget To Restrict Abortion Clinics, Cut Funds for Planned Parenthood, Rape Crisis Centers

June 7, 2013 —The Ohio Senate on Thursday passed a state budget proposal (HB 59) that would add new restrictions on abortion providers and cut funding to Planned Parenthood and rape crisis centers, the Huffington Post reports (Bassett, Huffington Post, 6/6).

The legislation now heads to conference committee, where House and Senate members will make final adjustments before submitting it to Gov. John Kasich (R) (Blackwell, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/6).

Details of Abortion, Funding Restrictions

One of the budget provisions would ban public hospitals from having transfer agreements with abortion clinics (Sanner, AP/Akron Beacon Journal, 6/6). Under state law, most ambulatory surgical facilities -- including abortion clinics -- must have agreements with nearby hospitals to transfer patients in case of emergencies. Hospitals are allowed to reject proposed transfer agreements (Hoffman, "Politics Extra," Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/5).

The measure also includes a provision prohibiting physicians who practice at public hospitals from practicing at abortion clinics.

Another provision in the budget proposal would change the way Ohio distributes federal money that flows through the state for health services (Ingles, Reuters, 6/6). Under the provision, some of the money would be distributed to crisis pregnancy centers -- Christian-run organizations that try to dissuade women from having abortions -- instead of Planned Parenthood.

The budget also would bar state funding for any not-for-profit that refers rape survivors to abortion providers, except in medical emergencies (Huffington Post, 6/6).

Concerns About Transfer Agreement Provision

Abortion-rights groups said the transfer agreement provision would force abortion clinics to seek the agreements with private hospitals, many of which would reject the arrangements because they are religiously affiliated.

Misha Barnes -- managing director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio -- said failure to secure a transfer agreement would effectively end an abortion clinic's ability to provide the procedure.

Supporters of the provision argued that hospitals that receive public funding should not be involved in abortion care ("Politics Extra," Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/5).

Budget Cuts Will Hurt Preventive Care, Opponents Say

Reproductive-rights supporters also expressed concerns about the funding restrictions on Planned Parenthood.

Kellie Copeland -- executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio -- said, "This proposal will wreak havoc on tens of thousands of patients [who] rely on these facilities, and could result in 11 counties losing access to subsidized family planning services entirely" (Reuters, 6/6).

Stephanie Kight -- president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio -- said in a statement that "state senators chose to use the budget as a vehicle to radically restrict the health and rights of women in our state." She added, "If Ohio's senators do not reverse course, this budget could threaten preventive health care programs at Planned Parenthood health centers and could dramatically restrict women's access to safe and legal abortion throughout Ohio" (Huffington Post, 6/6).