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Ohio lawmakers debating funding cut for Planned Parenthood

For the third time in a year, Ohio lawmakers are debating legislation to decrease federal funding to Planned Parenthood in Ohio and centers that perform or counsel about abortive services.

House Republicans revived the push this week in revisions to Gov. John Kasich’s state budget bill. The provisions added to the bill would “re-prioritize” federal family planning dollars so those centers would be at the bottom of list of centers eligible for funding. Lawmakers also want to create the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program to divert a different pool of federal money to pregnancy crisis centers that do not offer abortive services or make referrals.

“Ohioans would be served well by the passage of this bill by opening up greater possibilities to well-equipped and deserving institutions that support healthier lives and not death,” said John Coats, executive director of Ohio Right to Life. Coats said crisis pregnancy centers offer “emotional and social services” such as parenting classes that aren’t offered at Planned Parenthood.

The priority system would put public entities such as local health departments at the top of the list for receiving federal money dedicated for family planning services, which is currently awarded through competitive grants. Any leftover money would go first to nonpublic centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventive care and last to centers that provide family planning services but not comprehensive care.

Planned Parenthood’s 32 Ohio clinics could lose up to $1.7 million from the change.

The bill’s supporters say the proposed priority funding system would increase options for women by funding more health care facilities. But Planned Parenthood officials and patients told lawmakers on Friday that Ohio’s Planned Parenthood centers offer quality care.

Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said abortions account for 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work and federal law already prohibits the funds in question from being used to provide abortive services.

“Don’t disrupt the system of care for these women,” Kight asked lawmakers. “Instead of shifting money around, let’s work together to build a stronger health care safety net.”

The committee plans to further revise the bill and send it to the floor for a full House vote next week.

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