Women’s Issue to Watch For

womens_watchThe Ohio Senate Finance Committee is expected to come out with its amendments to the biennial budget bill (HB 59) later this afternoon. A large bill, such as the budget, provides ample opportunity to insert changes in law that impact women.

Here are a few things to watch for:

Defunding Planned Parenthood

The Ohio House added a provision to the budget which would re-prioritize family planning dollars, essentially denying funding to Planned Parenthood by placing them at the end of the line of eligible recipients.  Opponents to this provision testified on Thursday at the Senate Finance Committee. While only one representative from Planned Parenthood was permitted to testify, she shared testimony of seven other women who were not permitted to testify. These women did provide written testimony that can be found here.

Despite the important work that Planned Parenthood does to provide healthcare for women, it is likely that this provision will remain in the budget.  If you are interested in speaking out regarding this provision, Planned Parenthood is inviting Ohioans to stand with them at the statehouse.  Or to contact Governor Kasich and request that he veto this provision.

Cuts to Healthcare for Pregnant Women

Senate President Keith Faber has indicated that reducing Medicaid edibility for roughly 8,600 pregnant women and 5,700 disabled workers may be a cost-saving opportunity in the budget. These cost savings could then be used to fund Senate priorities, such as tax breaks that benefit wealthy Ohioans. With a high infant mortality rate in Ohio and the importance of prenatal healthcare to healthy babies, cutting Medicaid eligibility could have a negative impact on Ohio’s women and children.

Funding Crisis Pregnancy Centers

This provision of the budget would allow Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to be given to crisis pregnancy centers, rather than to women directly. An investigation into these centers  by NARAL found that they often provide false and misleading information to women who visit them, rather than unbiased medical information.

Sexual Gateway Activity

The Ohio House included – and then deleted – language in the budget that would restrict the teaching of sexual education in Ohio, limiting it to abstinence-only education and prohibiting the teaching of ‘gateway sexual activity.’  This language, similar to a bill passed in Tennessee, would go so far as to allow a parent to sue if an educator violates the provisions of this law.  Will the Senate try to restore the measure?

Targeting Abortion Providers

An amendment added to the budget in the House puts into Ohio’s revised code provisions requiring so-called ambulatory care clinics to have transfer agreements in place with local hospitals. Providers of abortions in Ohio typically fit the definition of ambulatory care clinics. Clinics without transfer agreements in place that are not granted a waiver from the Ohio Department of Health would be forced to close, leaving many communities in Ohio without a single provider.

Senate amendments are expected this afternoon, with additional changes to come next week. Stay tuned to Ohio Women’s Watch for more updates.