House committee votes to defund Planned Parenthood based on misinformation

Today, a committee of the Ohio House of Representatives met for the fourth time to hear testimony on HB 298, legislation that would effectively block family planning funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other providers of women’s health services in Ohio.

The bill ranks grant applicants into categories with public health clinics, federally qualified health clinics and community action agencies first in line for funding. Family planning providers like Planned Parenthood come last, only eligible for funds after applications of all those in the upper tiers have been considered.

Because funds are limited, the practical effect is to block any funds from making it to Planned Parenthood and organizations like it.

Packed hearing room for today’s testimony on HB298.

Unfortunately, today’s testimony featured very misleading information about the current funding system that the legislation sets out to change. Ohio Right to Life and bill proponents suggested that Planned Parenthood clinics in Ohio are currently the exclusive recipients of this funding, crowding out worthy applications from other types of providers.

This couldn’t be more wrong.

In reality, of 36 organizations awarded federal family planning funds by the Ohio Department of Health, only two were Planned Parenthood affiliates. The rest are the very community action agencies and public health departments that proponents suggest are somehow prevented from receiving funding under the current scheme.

The bill is based on a faulty understanding of the current grant process. Unfortunately, no one from the Kasich organization — responsible for administration of the program — was allowed to testify and clear up the misinformation.

Here’s a list of all 36 grants awarded by the Ohio Department of Health. It shows very clearly that despite claims, Planned Parenthood is not crowding out other organizations from receiving federal family planning funds. Instead, they are  applying for and demonstrating merit in a competitive process that makes awards to the programs that are the most cost-effective use of taxpayer funds.

The bill appears set for passage by the committee, receiving yes votes from all the Republican members present and leading 11-9 as the committee was adjourned. Three GOP members were absent, but the rolls were left open so the bill could get the 12 votes needed to send it to the full House of Representatives who could take up the legislation as early as tomorrow.