Ohio anti-woman budget attracting national attention

politicians-make-crappy-doctors-227x300Yesterday, in a party-line vote, Republicans in the Ohio Senate adopted a two-year budget that includes a number of policy provisions aimed at limiting women’s constitutional right to abortion, and in the process, depriving funds to family planning organizations including those with nothing to do with abortions.

(See how your Senator voted on the budget)

House Bill 59 passed 23-10 and contained language that would:

  • Prohibit abortion clinics from entering agreements with public hospitals or with doctors affiliated with public hospitals. These agreements to transfer patients in medical distress are required by State law, so without them many clinics will be forced to close.
  • Block funding for rape crisis centers from going to organizations that refer women to facilities that provide abortions.
  • Effectively blocks federal family planning funds from going to family planning providers, putting them last in a prioritized list of recipients.


After a national election cycle in which abortion rights — especially for the victims of sexual assaults — played a central role, you would think that lawmakers would not be so quick to revisit this debate. But this overlooks the effect of gerrymandering, which means most incumbent Senators represent such safe districts that they have no reason to fear a challenge from the opposite party and their biggest electoral threat could come from more conservative members of their own party in a contested primary.

Ohio’s move to put women’s right to a legal abortion and access to affordable health care returns the state to the national spotlight, something party leaders must hardly welcome. Within hours of yesterday’s vote, headlines appeared in the Huffington Post, ThinkProgress and Salon.com and in wire stories nationwide. With the national spotlight on Ohio, Governor Kasich may now be forced to make a high-profile decision whether to veto the provisions or allow them to become law.

The bill now heads to a joint House-Senate conference committee. A bill must be presented to the Governor to sign by June 30.