The 130th Ohio General Assembly will be sworn into office in the coming days, with only 17 new House members and 2 new Senate members, we can look back to the 129th General Assembly for an idea of how women’s issues will fare in the 130th General Assembly. In the 129th General Assembly, a total of 15 anti-woman bills or resolutions were introduced and just over 60% received a vote in either the Senate or the House. Six of these unfavorable bills were enacted. This resulted in further restrictions on abortions and abortion coverage. A total of 26 bills or resolutions that were favorable towards women were introduced. However many of these bills never saw more than one hearing and only 15% of these bills were voted on. A bill was 4 times as likely to receive a hearing if it was unfavorable to women. Only three of the favorable bills were passed and two – SB 199 for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and SCR 15 Folic Acid Awareness Day – simply designated awareness days and made no major policy changes. Due to November’s election results – and the new gerrymandered House and Senate district maps, we can expect this same trend in the 130th General Assembly. The 129th General Assembly took on a few high profile fights as the house voted on and passed HB 125, the Heartbeat Bill, which would have left Ohio with the most restrictive abortion restrictions in the country. The Senate ultimately didn’t vote on this bill and it was not enacted. House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R) has said that there is no question that this bill will again be introduced in the 130th General Assembly. HB 298, which attempted to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, was introduced early in the House and revived following the 2012 election. Several hearings were held and the committee ultimately voted the bill out of committee, 11-9. The measure did not receive a vote on the house floor. This too could be revived in the next general assembly. The Kasich administration demonstrated support for most of the anti-woman bills and has no problem touting his pro-life credentials. Two of Kasich’s three consumer appointments to the Ohio Medical Board have been board members of Ohio Right to Life. Michael Gonidakis, the Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life, was Kasich’s most recent appointment to the Ohio State Medical Board. As Kasich moves into his second term and faces reelection, we expect him to make more extreme appointments to Ohio boards. Ohio Women’s Watch will continue to monitor legislation and policy decisions that impact women as we move into the 130th General Assembly and the Biennial Budget.
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. 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.
Fresh off Tuesday’s election, the GOP majority in Ohio’s legislature returned to Columbus with a bang, indicating they will take up legislation in both Chambers to roll back women’s healthcare options. Heartbeat Bill The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that supporters of the so-called Heartbeat Bill (HB 125) have reached a compromise with Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that originally opposed the bill for being too extreme. HB 125 bans all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can often occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Its only exception is for medical emergencies. No exceptions exist for instances of rape, incest or the long-term health of a woman. [Read more…]
On Tuesday, the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee inserted language at the discretion of Chairman Ron Amstutz into the mid-biennium budget bill, HB 487, that would effectively eliminate any pass-through funding flowing from the State of Ohio to Planned Parenthood. Not only would this prohibit the organization from receiving over $1.4 million in federal Title X family planning funds, but it eliminates federal funding for the only providers of family planning in thirteen Ohio counties. Below, we provide links to the complete written testimony that was offered by two strong advocates for Planned Parenthood in Ohio. [Read more…]