US

Ohio Lawmakers on Verge of Giving $5 Million to Alternative to Planned Parenthood

By Colin Fredericson

Members of the Ohio State Senate are a hoping a budget bill that removes public funds from Planned Parenthood and instead funds crisis pregnancy centers will soon become law.

Planned Parenthood centers in Ohio lost the majority of their funding due to a bill former Governor John Kasich signed in 2016, Dayton Daily News reported. The bill took away $1.5 million in taxpayer money from the centers.

Last year the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled the bill unconstitutional, but then reversed that decision this year, according to the Daily News. So the partial defunding still stands.

“Thanks to this very encouraging decision, Ohioans of conscience won’t have to worry about whether their tax dollars are going towards abortions,” Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said on the court’s new decision, via the Daily News.

The new bill passed by the Ohio State Senate seeks to stop using public funds for Planned Parenthood, because the centers provide or recommend abortion services, and instead put $5 million into crisis pregnancy centers offering solutions to dealing with unplanned pregnancies that do not require ending the baby’s life.

Specifically, the 2016 bill rescinds $1.5 million in funds to those that provide elective abortions.

The budget bill passed unanimously in the Ohio State Senate, despite Democratic Senator Sandra Williams’s failed effort to remove the $5 million for crisis pregnancy centers.

Gonidakis sees the crisis pregnancy centers as essential.

“Forget the pro-choice/pro-life [arguments],” he said, via Cleveland.com. “Pregnancy centers are the boots on the ground that help underserved women who find themselves in a situation they didn’t expect.”

The $5 million will provide funding to over 200 crisis pregnancy centers. Supporters say the centers provide counseling to women with unplanned pregnancies, give free ultrasounds, offer parenting classes, and provide baby items, Cleveland.com reported.

The budget bill will now go to a conference committee of legislatures who will unify the bill’s content among both houses of state legislature, Cleveland.com reported. The budget will then go to the governor for final approval.

The budget bill encompasses a $69 billion two-year state operating budget, according to Cleveland.com.

Responding to research carried out by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, which accused crisis pregnancy centers of “coercing [women] out of having an abortion,” Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof told Cleveland.com: “What they mean is, these are pro-life options and they’d prefer we give the money to Planned Parenthood. But the legislature has chosen over time to make a decision that we would not prioritize organizations that provide non-therapeutic abortions. They took us to court. They lost.”

The research also accused crisis pregnancy centers of not providing accurate information, to which Obhof responded, “I also think there is a left-right question here of what people define as accurate information and what they don’t.”