This week, the Ohio Senate is set to enact a new law stripping funding from Planned Parenthood in Ohio. House Bill 294, already passed by the GOP-leaning House of Representatives, would prohibit the state from awarding state and certain federal funds to Planned Parenthood or any other organization that promotes or provides abortions.
This is despite existing federal and state laws that prohibit these funds to be used for abortion. Instead, the lost funds will come from programs that deliver critical preventive-care services like sex education and provide access to contraception. This funding also provides vital healthcare services, such as HIV/AIDS testing, and breast and cervical cancer screenings. Indeed, many of the services that will lose funding are known to prevent abortion.
Limiting access to contraception coverage will only increase the number of unintended pregnancies in Ohio. After a similar bill was passed in Texas, access to contraception coverage dropped by 54 percent, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. As their report notes, claims for contraceptives in Texas dropped from 191,159 in 2011 to 88,281 in 2013, after funding to Planned Parenthood was eliminated.
And earlier this week, a Texas Grand Jury cleared Planned Parenthood of allegations stemming from heavily altered videos released in 2015 that anti-abortion activists claimed showed the organization was engaged in the sale of fetal body parts. Not only did the grant jury find Planned Parenthood acted properly, they actually handed down an indictment against the filmmakers, charging them with records tampering.
In Ohio, a similar investigation by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine found the organization did not engage in the sale of fetal body parts.
House Bill 294 was introduced in July, during the media circus surrounding the doctored videos. Now, despite clear evidence the allegations are completely manufactured and laws already on the books to keep state and federal funds from paying for abortions, Ohio Republicans are marching forward in their effort to cut off funding.
This afternoon, a Senate committee will begin consideration of the bill. It is expected they will work fast and send it to the full Senate for a vote as early as tomorrow. This could put the bill on Governor Kasich’s desk before the end of the week.