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Ohio. Gov. Kasich Signs Budget Restrictions on Abortion, Family Planning Funding

Ohio. Gov. Kasich Signs Budget Restrictions on Abortion, Family Planning Funding

July 1, 2013 — Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Sunday signed a two-year, $62 billion state budget (HB 59) that includes new abortion restrictions and a provision that will essentially block federal family planning funding from Planned Parenthood, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Kasich vetoed 22 budget items, including language blocking him from moving forward with a proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility to 275,000 low-income state residents. The budget takes effect July 1, the Dispatch notes.

Women's Health Provisions

The budget 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 to listen for a fetal heartbeat. The woman must be told if a heartbeat is detected and the likelihood that the fetus would survive if the pregnancy continues. The bill also defines a fetus as "developing from the moment of conception."

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 (Siegel, Columbus Dispatch, 7/1).

Additionally, the bill allows public funding for rape crisis clinics to be suspended if they counsel victims on abortion.

Reaction

Abortion-rights advocates said the bill could force several of the state's 12 abortion clinics to close.

"Kasich enacted measures that prescribe medically unnecessary procedures, force doctors to mislead their patients and will force quality medical centers to close," NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said.

Meanwhile, Michael Gonidakis of Ohio Right to Life applauded Kasich's decision, saying, "Our motivation for pushing the law was so that state tax dollars are not used to fund abortions" (Reuters/WSBT, 6/30).