Ohio Lawmakers to Shift Venue for Their Attack on Planned Parenthood Funding

by Gary Dougherty, State Legislative Director, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio

Last week, language was inserted into HB 487, the Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) budget bill, which would restrict women’s access to basic, preventive health care and vital health information from Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers in Ohio.  Yesterday, the language was removed from the MBR.

Whereas we are pleased with this development, we know that the battle is not over – it will just be waged on a different front.

This was evidenced by the ominous warning issued by House Finance and Appropriations Committee Chairman Ron Amstutz yesterday as he explained the removal of the anti-Planned Parenthood language from the MBR.  He clearly stated that this would be “dealt with and acted upon in separate legislation already pending in another committee.”

Chairman Amstutz was clearly referring to HB 298 which is currently pending in the House Health and Aging Committee.  Whereas sponsor and proponent testimony have been heard, there has not yet been an opportunity to provide opponent testimony.  We have heard rumblings that, in light of the removal of this language from the MBR, hearings on HB 298 may resume as quickly as next week.

Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers in Ohio have been an important part of the health care network in the state for 80 years.  In fact, one in five women in America has turned to one of Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers for professional, non-judgmental and confidential care at some point in her life.

The women who come to Planned Parenthood aren’t making a political statement; they are coming to get health care they need.   That’s why women throughout the state have been speaking up to preserve their right to access health care at the provider they know and trust.

 “Without the Pap smear done by Planned Parenthood I would have never known about what was happening in my body, because I didn’t have the resources to get a common medical test done. Planned Parenthood saved my life.   This isn’t about whether or not you believe abortion is right or wrong. This is about whether or not you believe in helping people get basic medical services that will extend their life.”  – Jennifer, Dublin

“I was sexually assaulted at the age of 20. Planned Parenthood frequently offered me help in terms of pointing me in the direction of support groups and it was important for me to have yearly check-ups. They also provided me with affordable birth control. Had that not been available to me, I might not have the 2 beautiful children I have today. Planned Parenthood is an incredibly important place for women from all backgrounds and situations.” – Elise, Cleveland

These women – and there are thousands more like them –  who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers in Ohio are being targeted by reckless state lawmakers who will cut them off from their own source of health care.  The politicians and special interest groups pushing this legislation are thinking the same thing.  They think that nobody will notice — or care — when women and men in low-income communities lose their only source of health care.  They think they know better than the women themselves what’s good for them.  They’re wrong.

Public opinion is with Planned Parenthood and the preventive health care services we provide.  A February 27 National Journal poll shows that 69 percent of voters oppose Congress cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, including women and independents.  A February 23 Quinnipiac poll shows majority favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, as well as 60 percent opposition to cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  A March 3 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that among women 18–49, 60 percent found it “mostly or totally unacceptable” to “eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and preventive health services.”

Ohio Planned Parenthood health centers work diligently every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy – and we know this is a goal that Ohioans agree upon.   Are you standing with Planned Parenthood and our patients?  Click here to sign our petition in opposition to House Bill 298.