Columbus — The Ohio Senate OK’d legislation Oct. 21 to block public funding of Planned Parenthood.
SB 214 passed on a split vote of 23-10 and heads to the Ohio House for further consideration.
Proponents offered the legislation after video recordings released earlier this summer showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing the organization’s sale of body parts from aborted fetuses.
“Whether you call yourself pro-life or pro-choice, I think most people take issue with taxpayer funding supporting an organization that seeks to profit off the harvest of baby parts from unborn children,” said Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), the primary sponsor of the legislation.
Opponents were critical of the legislation, noting other services provided by Planned Parenthood and existing prohibitions on public funds being directed for abortion services.
“I think about all the women in Ohio and what they deserve, and they deserve more than what this bill is giving them,” said Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-Cleveland). “It’s very frustrating to sit back here and know the good that Planned Parenthood has done.”
SB 214 would require the Ohio Department of Health to ensure public funds are being used for their intended purpose — the legislation lists breast and cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS initiatives and other specific programs — and not for abortions.
Funds from such programs would be blocked for groups that perform abortions or have contracts or are affiliated with providers of such services.
“For me, it’s sickening to know that [Planned Parenthood], which was very open to the prospect of ruthlessly dismembering an unborn child in order to obtain a higher profit, received over $1 million from Ohio taxpayers in fiscal year 2015 alone,” Faber said.
Comparable legislation has been offered in the Ohio House.
The floor vote Oct. 21 followed a morning committee hearing, where dozens of opponents of the legislation hoped to testify. Those who spoke were limited to two minutes for their comments.
“I was disappointed that I was the only female on the committee,” said Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo). “I was disappointed that most people testifying [were] limited to 120 seconds... When this body decides to make major changes to the availability of health care for women and men in our state, everyone should be given the opportunity to fully express their views.”
Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) said many residents use Planned Parenthood for needed services, including pregnancy testing and prenatal care, cancer screenings and HIV testing.
“Those who support the bill would rather deny access to these critical health services than have the money to flow through Planned Parenthood,” she said, adding later, “There is simply not enough capacity within the health care system to absorb patients currently served by” Planned Parenthood’s 28 locations in Ohio.
Republicans refuted such comments, however, saying the public funds would continue to flow to community health centers and other local outlets providing medical services.
“Every dollar will be spent in those programs,” said Sen. Bill Coley (R-West Chester). “It will just be spread out better, in our opinion, throughout the state.”
He added, “What we’re doing is we’re moving money from organizations that perform abortions. We’re moving that money to organizations that are life-affirming organizations.”
Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) pointed out the total funding that would be affected by the legislation.
“Planned Parenthood’s total budget nationwide is well over $1 billion,” he said. “The fact that the state is making a decision to decline to spend $1.3 million... is a mere flea bite and will not impact women’s health and will not even impact Planned Parenthood.”
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.