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State GOP lawmakers move to put Planned Parenthood at the bottom of the funding list
They argue it increases options; opponents say it puts government in control of women's decisions
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
A hearing in the Ohio House to cut funding for Planned Parenthood drew a big crowd today.
Courtesy of KAREN KASLER
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An Ohio House committee has recommended a bill that would re-prioritize funding for family planning services so that Planned Parenthood would be last on the list.

The organization estimates that could cost it more than a million dollars for birth control services it provides to low-income Ohio women. But backers of this plan say it’s about giving women more choices. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles has details.

INGLES: Planned Parenthood argument

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Planned Parenthood of Ohio is eligible for state and federal dollars to help pay for birth control, screenings and other services for low-income women.

John Coates, the executive director of Ohio Right to Life, says many other community health clinics and private practices have been providing those same services and they deserve to get funding too.

“Furthermore, there are many hospitals and free clinics around the state that provide these same services in addition to primary care or comprehensive health care often at little or no cost to the patient.”

Backers of the bill say it would reprioritize funding for family planning to allocate it more fairly

Republican lawmaker Jay Hottinger says Planned Parenthood focuses its services on low-income women in urban areas, leaving out many women in rural areas. And he says even in urban areas, there are lots of clinics providing important services for women that should be getting some government dollars.

“For example, in Cincinnati, there are four Planned Parenthood (clinics). There are 33 breast and cervical cancer screening centers in Cincinnati.  Cleveland, I talked about two Planned Parenthood facilities.  There are 11 breast and cervical centers.  Dayton goes from one to 18.  Toledo one to 16.  Columbus five to 12.  Youngstown one to 11.  In regards to access, how is this not a significant improvement?”

But a key part of the argument is abortion.

Denise Leipold is executive director of Right to Life of Northeast Ohio. She acknowledges Planned Parenthood is not allowed, by law, to use government money for abortions, but says the money it does get for other services allows the organization to free up its own dollars for that purpose.

“Ninety-one percent of all pregnant clients that go into Planned Parenthood come out with an abortion.  That is clear statistics that show that abortion is indeed a method of family planning at Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood disputes that claim.  It says federal money is separated and not used for abortion.  And it says abortion makes up only a very small part of the services the organization provides.

And as lawmakers came out of the committee hearing, they were greeted by a long line of Planned Parenthood supporters who lined the hallway, chanting.

After the hearing, backers of Planned Parenthood told reporters why the bill should not pass.  Dr. Rob Crane of Columbus says Planned Parenthood saves the government money in the long run.  And he cites a study that shows the more access women have to reliable birth control, the fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions.

“So they should actually be providing Planned Parenthood with more money to give good, long-acting contraception rather than reducing it.  This is not just a war on women.  This is a war on reason. “


Democrats say majority Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse should not be trying to defund Planned Parenthood.  State Senator Nina Turner of Cleveland says she’s sick of the Legislature, made up primarily of men, trying to strip Ohio women of  birth control options.

“The GOP if they had their way, they’d want women barefoot, pregnant, and back home by 5 o’clock p.m. to cook dinner, with no voice and no choices and as one woman tweeted me yesterday….’back in a binder.’ 

That’s a reference to an awkwardly turned phrase by Mitt Romney in one of the presidential debates when he was asked about equal rights for women.

Turner says lawmakers should have gotten the message in last week’s elections that most Ohio women do not want lawmakers to be tackling these types of issues. 

“It is funny that our Republican colleagues always like to wax poetic about smaller government while they want government small enough to fit inside a woman’s womb.  Well we are sick of it, we are tired of it and we are not going to take it any more.”

Even if the plan ends up getting full approval in the Ohio House, it would still have to pass the Ohio Senate before becoming law and the clock is ticking.  The two-year legislative session ends when the year ends.

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