Ohio’s legislature passed a bill on Wednesday to effectively defund Planned Parenthood by redirecting state-administered grants away from groups that “promote abortion.” The legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, who has vowed to sign it into the law.
The bill was created after the Center for Medical Progress released its attack videos last summer which claimed that the organization was selling “aborted baby parts.” The lawmakers who authored the legislation used the videos as the main evidence for defunding the largest women’s health organization, even after Ohio’s attorney general cleared the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics of any unlawful acts.
A number of other states are also attempting to pass measures to defund Planned Parenthood, but Ohio’s bill could be particularly disastrous. Women’s health advocates say the bill’s vague wording could unintentionally prevent major health departments in Ohio’s most populated areas from accessing these funds for all forms of care — not just abortions — and could ban major Ohio insurers from covering any other health services simply based on the fact that they also cover abortion.
By cutting off any programs that provide abortions, the legislation also targets programs that screen for cancer, support mothers through pregnancy, and educate teens about domestic violence. Instead, the funds will be redirected to other providers, including dentist’s offices and school nurses, which do not perform these vital services.
“If they want to raise money, they can still do it,” Kasich told a voter in Iowa last month when he promised to sign the bill. “I’m going to sign a bill to defund it, so you shouldn’t be confused.”
When the voter pressed him about all of the other crucial services that Planned Parenthood also offers women, Kasich declared that “we’re done” and walked away.
If Ohio goes the way of Texas after the measure is signed, the results could be catastrophic for economically disadvantaged women across the state. A recent study released by Texas-based researchers found that defunding Planned Parenthood clinics leaves some poor women unable to access the most effective forms of birth control, including IUDs and implants. As a result, the state saw a dramatic 27 percent spike in births after Planned Parenthood was kicked out of the state’s family planning network.
Kasich, who is still campaigning off his largely unexpected second place finish in the New Hampshire presidential primary, has a long anti-abortion track record. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, noted Wednesday that under Kasich, Ohio has passed 17 restrictions on women’s health and closed nearly half the abortion providers in the state.
“We’ve seen the dire consequences for women, men and young people when politicians block access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers,” she said. “It’s time for political games to end — and for Governor Kasich to veto this bill so Ohioans don’t lose vital care.”