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State Rep. Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, of Ohio’s 10th House District.

Along comes Ohio state Reps. Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, and Margaret Conditt, R-Liberty Township, asking their colleagues earlier this month if they’d like to co-sponsor legislation that will cut off healthcare funding for low-income women.

OK, so that’s not exactly how they put it, but effectively, that’s what their proposal would do. They want to combat the problem of infant mortality in Ohio by cutting off funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide healthcare services to low-income women.

Because the way to deal with the infant mortality crisis is by reducing the availability of abortion services, and making quality pre- and postnatal care more difficult to obtain for low-income and minority women, apparently.

Thanks Bill. I had been thinking that majority Republicans didn’t have help meddling in what women can do with their own reproductive systems. Nice of you to join them.

From a July 17 co-sponsor request email to state House colleagues from Patmon and Conditt:

We will soon be introducing legislation that will require the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that funds received from the state or received under the “Violence Against Women Act of 1994,” the “Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990,” the Infertility Prevention Project operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the “Minority HIV/AIDS initiative” operated by the Office of Minority Health in the United States Department of Health and Human Services are not used to do any of the following:

— Perform elective abortions;

— Promote elective abortions;

— Contract with any entity that performs or promotes elective abortions;

— Become or continue to be an affiliate of any entity that performs or promotes elective abortions.

The last bullet point is particularly slick. I can’t wait to see how they define “affiliate” in the draft legislation.

You all might remember Patmon. He’s the Democrat who lent the “bipartisan” label to the 2013 effort for an Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act proposal, which didn’t get anywhere.

That was back when the Arizona legislature was passing its similar law, destined for the veto pen, and most thinking people across the country saw these efforts for exactly what they were: freedom to discriminate against gay people bills.

Notably, in Ohio, freedom to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation continues to be perfectly permissible under the law, both in employment and public accommodation. Patmon eventually changed his mind on that issue, withdrawing the proposal.

Now, there’s no doubt that Ohio has an infant mortality problem, ranking fourth worst rate out of 50 states, with 7.72 deaths per 1,000 live births.

But the Patmon/Conditt proposal is baldly an attack on reproductive choice, not the infant mortality problem. In fact, the legislators hardly bother to even try to explain how their proposal would help with infant mortality.

Our hope is that state funding will empower groups who are committed to combatting Ohio’s atrocious statistics.

Oh, is that your hope, Bill? I think it’s pretty clear the type of empowerment your proposed legislation would actually bestow. And it is my hope that you will be forced to pay politically for continuing to shamble along following wrong-headed Republican proposals.

What do you all think? Perhaps you can tell Patmon himself at 614-466-7954.

David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.

 

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