Legislators in Ohio have omitted funding for Planned Parenthood in the state’s annual budget and have pledged to substantially increase funding for crisis pregnancy centers. The Senate’s spending bill cuts $1.5 million in funding from Planned Parenthood and allocates $5 million for the state’s more than 200 pregnancy centers. This is five times the amount of funding that these pregnancy centers have received in the past.
The move comes after a federal appeals court upheld a 2016 Ohio law stripping funding from Planned Parenthood. That law was challenged, with a lower court initially ruling in Planned Parenthood’s favor. However, in March of this year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s ruling, upholding the state’s right to restrict funds to abortion providers.
“Governments generally may do what they wish with public funds, a principle that allows them to subsidize some organizations but not others and to condition receipt of public funds on compliance with certain obligations,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote concerning the ruling. “The Ohio law does not violate a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.”
Senate President Larry Obhof spoke of the ruling to Tony Perkins on Washington Watch. He reiterated the state’s desire to funnel funds away from abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood while increasing the funds available to pro-life alternatives. “This is the first budget opportunity we’ve had since [the ruling] to invest additional funds into crisis pregnancy centers, and I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to do so far,” he said.
Pro-lifers in the state are hopeful that the increase of funding will allow pregnancy centers to offer more aid to mothers with free ultrasounds, baby items, and parenting classes.
Senate Democrats tried to eliminate the pregnancy center funding with an amendment filed by Sen. Sandra Williams. “The funds in this program do not go to evidence-based initiatives proven to reduce infant and maternal mortality,” Williams said. “Rather, they go to organizations with anti-choice agendas who often offer inaccurate medical information.” Ultimately, Williams’ amendment failed.
When they don’t refer women for abortions, crisis pregnancy centers are often targeted by abortion providers as being “fake clinics.” In reality, these centers provide a much-needed service to pregnant women and new mothers who need resources and support in caring for their child.
The Senate bill now needs to be reconciled with the House version and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.
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