Rep. Amstutz

In our previous post, we raised an alarm about the hasty insertion of an amendment into a budget bill quickly moving through the legislature that would prevent the distribution of federal family planning funds to Planned Parenthood. We made that claim because that’s what other bills (HB298 and SB201) currently pending in the Ohio General Assembly aim out to do.

It turns out that it’s actually much, much worse than that.

In addition to restricting the flow of federal “family planning” funds, House Bill 487, sponsored by Representative Ron Amstutz and adopted without a recorded vote by members of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, completely prohibits the distribution to Planned Parenthood of Ohio or any of its affiliates from any of the following federal programs:

  • Violence Against Women Act
  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act
  • Infertility Prevention Project (US Dept of Health & Human Services)
  • Minority HIV/AIDS initiative funds (Centers for Disease Control)

In other words, according to GOP House members, Planned Parenthood is such an undesirable organization that not only do we want to prevent it from doing any family planning work (remember, the law already prohibits public funds from paying for abortions), we also don’t want them to help people with HIV/AIDS or  infertility, to screen women for cervical or breast cancer, or to help victims of domestic violence. Just take a second to let that sink in.

In case there is any question about whether this is entirely about abortion, that fact is made quite clear in the legislation. From Substitute HB 487:

The department of health shall ensure that all funds it receives through the Violence Against Women Act to distribute as grants for the purpose of education and prevention of violence against women are not used to do any of the following:

(1) Perform elective abortions;
(2) Promote elective abortions;
(3) Contract with any entity that performs or promotes elective abortions;
(4) Become or continue to be an affiliate of any entity that performs or promotes elective abortions.

But who 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.

It’s a heartless amendment, about which no one has offered testimony, and it’s now incorporated into a budget bill which is expected to pass before legislators take their long summer vacations.

NARAL Ohio is urging Ohioans to call Representative Amstutz, tonight if you can–leave a voice mail!–telling him to remove the language targeting Planned Parenthood from HB487. His number is (614) 466-1474. Planned Parenthood has an action form you can use to email Amstutz. Or, show up at tomorrow’s hearing at 2:30 p.m. in room 313 of the Ohio Statehouse wearing pink (note: post originally had the time incorrectly as 1:30).

Make your voice heard.

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