Ohio Legislators Introduce Bills To Fund Health Clinics, Not Abortion Providers

By Penny Starr | July 15, 2011 | 3:55 AM EDT

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Photo: Ohio Channel/Ohiostatehouse.org)

(CNSNews.com) – Ohio state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would redirect federal and state funds to state, county and local health centers caring for women and their children, born and unborn, rather than funding abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood.

Similar policies have been implemented in Texas, Kansas, and Tennessee.

Republican state representatives Kristina Roegner and Cliff Rosenberger introduced HB 298 earlier this week. State Sen. Kris Jordan, also a Republican, introduced a companion bill on Thursday.

“The General Assembly has the responsibility to not only appropriate funds, but to prioritize their distribution as well,” Jordan said in a press release about his bill. “This legislation will ensure that family planning dollars are spent in an efficient and ethical manner that prioritizes comprehensive care.”

The legislation creates four tiers of priority for public funding of family planning services.

Priority would be given first to eligible public entities, including community health clinics operated by state or local governments. Second in line for funding would be qualified health centers. Third priority would be given to nonpublic entities that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care services. Last on the priority list would be nonpublic entities that do not provide comprehensive care and preventative services, such as Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

In a letter seeking co-sponsors for his bill, Jordan specifically named Planned Parenthood as inspiration for his legislation.

“Planned Parenthood in Ohio serves as a prime example of such an entity,” Jordan said in the letter. “Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, performing, and profiting from, one out of every four abortions in the United States.”

“In 2009 abortion was a ‘service’ that Planned Parenthood provided to 97.6 percent of their patients who reported themselves pregnant,” Jordan said. “In the U.S., it performed 332,278 abortions in 2009 alone. That is 910 abortions every day.”

Jordan said patients who receive prenatal care at Planned Parenthood clinics dropped 63 percent since 1999 – from 18,878 that year to 7,021 in the latest data from the organization.

Jordan concluded his letter by saying government should not subsidize a life-ending procedure: “Abortions kill innocent babies and abortion providers should not be subsidized by any government program.”

Pro-life groups praised the bills.

“This pro-life initiative is an extension of Ohio’s 2004 law which prioritized state women’s health services funds towards local departments of health,” Mike Gonidakis, executive director for Ohio Right to Life, said in a statement. “This legislation will apply these same state standards towards various federal family planning dollars as well.”

“Taxpayer funded health centers and community health centers should receive the utmost consideration from the government when distributing these limited resources,” Gonidakis said.

“We applaud Ohio for taking action to protect women from Planned Parenthood and its harmful practices,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.  “Momentum is building as states across the country are listening to their constituents and bucking the federal government in order to stop taxpayers from having to pay for abortion.

“The Obama Administration must stop badgering states in order to protect its political ally Planned Parenthood and wake up to the reality that Americans don’t want to underwrite abortion,” Dannenfelser said.

Pro-abortion groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America have not reacted to the bills ahead of this report posting, but NARAL has given Ohio an “F” grade because its governor and both legislative bodies in the state are “anti-choice.”

The group also faults the state because it does not have abortion clinics in 91 percent of Ohio counties.