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Defunding Bill Targets Planned Parenthood’s Basic Preventive Care

Washington, DC -- Today, the Ohio State Senate voted to eliminate funding that allows Planned Parenthood to provide thousands of Ohioans with essential reproductive health care services like birth control, infant mortality prevention care, youth education, STI testing, confidential HIV/AIDS programs, and lifesaving cancer screenings. This vote comes the morning after more than 400 women and men from across Ohio rallied at the Statehouse in Columbus to stand with Planned Parenthood.  

This bill passed out of a Committee that suppressed the voices of women's health advocates who tried to speak against the bill.  It now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives.  This legislation is part of Governor John Kasich’s extreme anti-abortion agenda in Ohio that is blocking women, men, and young people from accessing health care at Planned Parenthood health centers and other providers across the state.  

Statement from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Planned Parenthood is the trusted health care provider for 80,000 women, men and young people in Ohio -- and this bill threatens the basic preventive care they rely on. Anyone who’s paid attention to Kasich’s record won’t be surprised at his zealous cuts for basic services like HIV testing and education or breast and cervical cancer screenings that women across Ohio rely on.  Kasich is extreme on women’s health issues and has used every tool at his disposal to ban abortion and roll back women’s access to reproductive health care.”

Along with targeting funding for STI testing, education services designed to increase access to critical HIV/AIDS care, and breast and cervical cancer screening programs, this bill also threatens funding for the “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” program that aims to prevent infant mortality -- despite the fact that Ohio has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation.

Statement from Stephanie Kight, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio:

“Ohioans support Planned Parenthood. This revolting attempt on the part of the Ohio General Assembly to pass laws that blatantly harm women, men, and their families, especially those in underserved areas, is unforgivable. The fact that Ohio lawmakers are making this attempt when the majority of the people in this state have made it clear that they oppose defunding is even worse. We will continue to be a voice for the thousands of women and men who turn to us each day. We aren’t going anywhere.”

This bill represents an extreme anti-abortion agenda that has been led by Governor Kasich since he took office. Through budget provisions and legislation, John Kasich has signed 16 anti-women’s health measures that have made it increasingly difficult to access reproductive health care and has significantly decreased the number of health centers that provide abortions.

  • Kasich signed into law a 20-week abortion ban making it more difficult for Ohio women to seek abortion services.

  • He passed a budget that included cuts to Planned Parenthood funding, putting at risk the thousands of women who live in medically underserved counties in Ohio.

  • He supported a budget provision that blocked grant money for state-funded rape crisis centers that refer women for abortion.

  • He signed into law a prohibition on transfer agreements between abortion providers and public hospitals despite the requirement that all abortion providers have a transfer agreement.

This past year alone, the programs targeted in this bill helped Planned Parenthood health centers in Ohio provide over 47,000 STI tests and over 3,600 HIV tests, serve nearly 2,800 individuals through the “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” infant mortality prevention program, and provide over 600 youth in the juvenile and foster care systems with educational services and comprehensive sexuality education.

If these Planned Parenthood programs are cut, there are not enough providers in Ohio poised to accommodate their patients.  Of the 28 Planned Parenthood health centers in Ohio, 26 of them are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that without Planned Parenthood, many patients would literally have nowhere else to turn for essential, preventive reproductive health care.

BACKGROUND:  Kasich is extreme on women’s health

Governor John Kasich tries to moderate on his record on women’s health. But the facts show otherwise: Kasich has signed 16 anti-women’s health measures into law during his time as governor.

FACT: Governor Kasich is no moderate; he is an extreme abortion opponent.

  • Mother Jones: “Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life….adds, ‘There is no candidate running for president who has done more for the pro-life movement than John Kasich.’"

  • Washington Post: “In Akron, there was no other Title X provider. The largest health provider didn’t take Medicaid. The only federal health center had a three- to six-week wait for appointments.”

  • The Columbus Dispatch: “In 2011, Kasich signed into law a bill that banned late-term abortions. The law prohibits abortions after 20 weeks unless a doctor determines the fetus could not live outside the womb. He also has signed a measure requiring an ultrasound of anyone seeking an abortion. The Ohio Department of Health reports that the vast majority of the 23,216 abortions performed in Ohio in 2013 took place less than nine weeks into pregnancy. The state has said 173 abortions after 21 weeks were recorded in 2013….Gonidakis said he does not doubt that Kasich is with his group on the abortion issue, and he said that under Kasich as governor, the state has seen ‘historic lows in the number of abortions. Whether John Kasich makes it to the finish line in this race,” he said, ‘his body of work in Ohio on the pro-life movement speaks for itself.’”

FACT: Women’s access to health care shrunk under Gov. Kasich

  • Mother Jones: “...in 2013 he signed the state's budget bill, which included one provision that prohibits state-funded rape crisis counselors from referring women to abortion services and another that stripped Planned Parenthood of an estimated $1.4 million in federal family-planning dollars. The measures have had drastic consequences for access to abortion and medical care for Ohio women.”

FACT: Under Gov. Kasich’s administration, abortion clinics across the state have closed.

  • Toledo Blade: “But the law had the effect of shutting down nearly half of Ohio’s abortion clinics, which is exactly what lawmakers intended it to do. Many abortion providers can’t get transfer agreements because hospitals face intense pressure from anti-abortion activists to deny them.”

  • Think Progress: “In terms of the areas where high number of clinics have recently been shuttered, Ohio ranks second only to Texas. And Ohio isn’t stopping there. Aside from the proposed budget, lawmakers have also been advancing a 20-week abortion ban; the state senate approved that legislation just last week. For years, reproductive rights groups have been warning that Ohio is becoming one of the worst states for abortion access. At the end of last week, the Plain Dealer’s editorial board also sounded the alarm: “These draconian rules aimed at closing Ohio’s abortion clinics appear to be a thinly veiled effort to get before the U.S. Supreme Court a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion,” the newspaper wrote in reference to the proposed budget bill.”

FACT: Ohio women are driving to Michigan to access abortion.

  • Toledo Blade: “Michigan abortion clinics see an influx of Ohioans...Ms. Chilean said she began to notice women coming from Ohio to the Michigan clinics about two years ago when Ohio law changed and banned abortions after 22 weeks.”

  • CBS News: “Both sides agree that one factor in Michigan's upsurge in abortions is an influx of women coming from Ohio, where several abortion clinics recently closed. According to Michigan's health department, abortions for nonresidents jumped from 708 in 2013 to 1,318 in 2014.”

FACT:  When Kasich was asked about a provision in the 2013 budget bill he signed that prohibits rape crisis counselors from telling victims that abortion is an option, he wouldn’t answer why he signed the provision into law. He said, “We certainly want to care. I actually believe in the exception of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Okay? But look, at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I think is a pro-life — you know, looking, being in a position of being pro-life. There’s nothing more I can say about it. I’ve said everything there is to say about it.” [Wonkette, 10/29/14]

FACT: After Governor Kasich signed four pieces of anti-abortion legislation into law in 2011, the president of Ohio Right to Life said: “Never in the history of the pro-life movement have we had so many legislative measures enacted in one year.” [Springfield News-Sun, 1/4/12]

FACT: Governor Kasich has said: “I’ve been pro-life all my career, so there’s — that’s just the way it is.” [USA Today, 6/26/13]

FACT: When Governor Kasich was asked if he would close down half the country’s abortion clinics like he did in Ohio if he were to become president, he responded, “We’ll do our best.” [YouTube, 8/19/15].

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