Preventing unwanted pregnancies should be a top priority for a Ohio politician desperate to see abortion end. Instead, the Ohio House has now approved a new budget that will strip funding from Planned Parenthood and instead provide it first to groups that may not even offer birth control as an option. The House has also approved a measure to pull Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) money and reallocate those taxpayer dollars to crisis pregnancy centers.
“Today the Ohio House voted against the women of this state” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said via statement. “The Ohio House passed a budget that, if it becomes law, will restrict access to contraceptives, cancer screenings and other vital health care. Ohio women need Governor Kasich to stop these dangerous attacks on women’s health care. We need him to speak out against these budget provisions and to line-item veto them if they reach his desk.”
Another bill that would have charged a teacher with a $5000 fine for education involving “gateway sexual activity” was pulled from the final budget.
Anti-choice lawmakers tried and failed to push a similar de-funding plan into last year’s budget debate, led by Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, who claimed that such a re-tiered system of funding would “just greatly expand the availability of services across the state.” He and his cohorts in Ohio Right to Life at the time pointed to the hundreds of new medical centers and clinics that could apply for funds. Opponents noted that many of those centers were already able to apply but weren’t doing so because they didn’t actually offer the same services.
Efforts to cut off access to legitimate reproductive health care and redirect the funds elsewhere purposefully undermine women’s ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies and are a favorite approach of anti-choice lawmakers invading the public health’s medical care. It’s a type of trespassing of which Ohio residents seem to be growing tired.
In reaction to recent news that the University of Toledo Medical Center will no longer offer transfer agreements to local abortion providers, fearing political blowback from Wachtman and his compatriots in the legislature, students on campus are rallying to demand that the school put their commitment to medicine ahead of their fear of politicians.
“There is no reason that [University of Toledo Medical Center] should not provide care to anyone, regardless of the circumstances that they need medical attention,” Kaitlyn Filzer, a member of the Student Government Election Board and organizer of a protest and petition gathering effort, to the Toledo Blade. “We understand that the university does not want to take a position on the contentious issue of abortion; however, we feel that by refusing to enter these contracts, the university is doing exactly that. These contracts are a pledge to provide medical care to women who need it, and we feel that UTMC has a responsibility to provide that care.”
The Ohio legislature may feel it has the power to block reproductive health care on every level this session, but they had better be careful. It looks like their own constituents aren’t prepared to let access go without a fight.