Impacts of abortion bill might surprise you

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 09:58:29-05

Pro-life supporters are backing an Ohio bill that will ban taxpayer dollars from funding health clinics that perform abortions.

But here’s the catch: The bill won’t change the amount of money those clinics get or spend on abortions every year.

Instead, Planned Parenthood health centers across the state won’t be able to use state and federal grants to pay for domestic violence prevention, HIV testing, infant mortality prevention or foster care youth education.

“These cuts will severely limit our ability to provide prevention education sessions in the community,” Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio spokeswoman Danielle Craig said. “They have no impact on our health care services.”

State law already prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortions but the new law will prevent clinics that offer the procedure from receiving any public funding for other health initiatives.

The ban will mean Planned Parenthood health centers across the state lose out on an estimated $1.3 million for education efforts.

Locally, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio – which operates six locations, one of which provides abortions, in the state – will lose roughly $480,000 every year, if the law is passed and signed by Gov. John Kasich.

In the Cincinnati and Dayton regions the organization will nix teen dating violence prevention education as well as a training program for juvenile justice and foster care staff that focuses on health relationships, pregnancy prevention and financial literacy for young people, Craig said.

The cut represents about five percent of the organization’s overall budget but more than half of its education department budget, Craig said.

Planned Parenthood was awarded the funding through a competitive grant process, meaning the Ohio Department of Health selected the organization to get the funding and put on the programming.

The programs will likely still be offered throughout the state if other health organizations apply for the funding.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said he hopes more health clinics in rural areas will now get access to funding. Planned Parenthood's facilities are mostly located in urban areas so he argues women in certain areas of the state have been cut off from the programs Planned Parenthood offers with tax dollars.

"Are we supposed to just write off all the women in southeastern Ohio because there's no Planned Parenthood there?" Gonidakis said. 

Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt (R-Liberty Township), who sponsored the bill, believes the funding should go to organizations that focus more narrowly on infant mortality education or domestic violence prevention instead of clinics that provide abortions.

“It’s my understanding that 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s business is about abortions,” Conditt said. “There are other entities that they spend 100 percent of their time helping victims of domestic violence.”

(Several news outlets have discredited an oft-made claim that 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are related to abortion.)

Kellie Copeland, the director of NARAL-Pro Choice Ohio, said she fears other health clinics in the area won’t be able to provide the programming that Planned Parenthood does.

“Obviously, the reason Planned Parenthood received these funds is because it’s a competitive process and they were awarded these funds because they’re the most efficient,” Copeland said. “Now, they’re going to force us to go into less efficient organizations.”

If the bill passes, the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers is one of the organizations that will benefit from the ban. The association will get $250,000 every year for infant mortality education. Ohio’s infant mortality rate is higher than the national average.

“We have identified a number of implementation strategies that will impact and reduce our infant mortality rates,” said Randy Runyon, the president of the association.

The Ohio House of Representatives is expected to vote – and pass – the bill as early as Tuesday.