Ohio Republicans are working to defund the state's Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The bill, OH House Bill 298, which puts Planned Parenthood at the bottom of a list of operations eligible for funding, would cut at least $2 million from the organization's $24 million budget in Ohio.
Ohio Planned Parenthood CEO Stephanie Kight said the bill will favor providers who don't specialize in family-planning services. "That's the only care we give and we're really good at it," she said. "Family doctors or general community clinics can provide some of those services...but the knowledge and equipment not be there." State-distributed family planning dollars are currently distributed in a competitive grant process, where organizations compete with specific project proposals to get funding. The bill would restructure that grant process, favoring requests from local government and private clinics. "They're stacking the deck to line up with their ideology," said Kight.
In a statement, Ohio Right to Life backed the bill: "It can't be ignored that Planned Parenthood is one of the largest pigs at the taxpayer trough, yet fails to provide certain and basic healthcare services offered at most of the other 300 clinics. It's time to stand up against the special interests, abortion lobbyists and their allies and instead support poor and uninsured women and their kids."
But Kight points to Planned Parenthood's "Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies" program in one Ohio county that provides preventative care and education to pregnant women and new moms in an impoverished community. "That program would be gone if this bill is passed."
Planned Parenthood officials expect the bill to pass the House, but are lobbying Governor Kasich and the state's Republican-controlled Senate in hopes of stopping it. "For a governor who ran on fiscal responsibility, this is blatantly fiscally irresponsible," Kight contended. In the bill's committee hearing, she pointed out that there were no healthcare providers testifying in support of the bill. "The only testimony came from Ohio Right To Life," she said. "Where are all these people ready to take this money and deliver these services? They weren't there yesterday. The only people testifying yesterday were the ideologues."
Sponsors of the bill did not return calls for comment by press time.
Planned Parenthood has faced dozens of legislative attacks by Republican politicians over the last year for providing abortion services, even though abortions account for just 3% of the organizations services. The vast majority of services used by women who visit Planned Parenthood and its affiliates is contraception, STD and cancer screenings; more than 90% of Planned Parenthood in Ohio's services are preventative care.