The fight over a potential plan to prioritize Medicaid funding with the intent of putting Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates last in line may be over, as the House Finance Committee signals it will likely remove the amendment from the mid-biennium budget review.
The amendment, which many expected would cause funding to dry up before ever reaching Planned Parenthood, was being pushed by anti-choice activists hoping to both force Planned Parenthood into a fiscal crisis as well as free up funding for their own pet health centers that do not provide abortions and often even make it difficult to obtain birth control. Planned Parenthood’s affiliates currently perform a large amount of the health screenings, contraceptive coverage and other medical assistance for low income and uninsured women in the state.
Ohio anti-choice activists fume that if they can’t get Planned Parenthood de-funded locally, they’ll just have to go back to doing it nationally.
“The pro-life community is deeply disappointed with this decision, but we are not disheartened,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “This issue is not over and it’s not the last you’re going to hear from Ohio Right to Life.”
Gionidakis noted that his group will work to elect Mitt Romney in November, and he has pushed to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level.
Although Republicans positioned the act as a way to ensure no funding went to providing abortions — something that was already forbidden in federal law, the bill would have not just affected contraception, but a myriad of other screenings and assistance provided by both Planned Parenthood as well. Innovation Ohio explained the impact the rule would have if passed:
Sub HB 487 goes much further than other bills that were previously introduced (see, for example, legislation introduced by Rep. Roegner and Sen. Jordan). 487 would, for example, bar Planned Parenthood from receiving funds for a number of other programs, including breast and cervical cancer screening, the Violence Against Women Act, infertility prevention and minority HIV/AIDS programs.
In its zeal to defund Planned Parenthood, Republicans were willing to put low income women at risk in the process. As Ohio political news site Plunderbund writes:
[W]ho are legislators hurting? The vast majority—76 percent—of Planned Parenthood clients are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. The care they are seeking ranges from testing for sexually-transmitted diseases, prenatal care, contraception, cancer screening and prevention and pregnancy testing. Abortion makes up only 3 percent of PP’s services. Contraception represents 34%. That means 63% of Planned Parenthood services have nothing to do with family planning.
Ohio Republicans do not care. They are on a mission to end Planned Parenthood and don’t care who gets cancer, has an undetected STD or who receives no prenatal care during pregnancy as a result.
The legislature is expected to vote on the new, stripped version of the budget review on Wednesday.