Thursday evening, the Ohio state Senate passed a $61.7 billion state budget that partially defunds Planned Parenthood and could close abortion clinics across the state. The Senate budget bill is scheduled to go to the House for a vote next week.
The budget, passed by the Senate along party lines in a vote of 23 to 10, strips $2 million in family planning funds from Planned Parenthood. The budget then also redirects family planning funds toward deceptive crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). CPCs are often owned and operated by churches or anti-abortion groups that pose as legitimate health centers. CPCs do not have the staff to provide medically accurate information and often convey religious beliefs in an attempt to convince women to carry their pregnancies to term. The budget also includes a provision that would deny federal funding to rape crisis centers who provide information on abortion to rape victims.
Another provision of the Ohio budget as passed by the Senate could potentially close abortion clinics throughout the state. The provision prohibits abortion clinics from have transfer agreements with public hospitals in case a patient needs additional care. However, in order for ambulatory surgical centers to be licensed by the state, they are required to have such transfer agreements in place.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told reporters, “This proposal will wreak havoc on tens of thousands of patients that rely on these facilities, and could result in 11 counties losing access to subsidized family planning services entirely.” She continued, “This is about paperwork… If they can’t make abortion illegal, they can make it virtually impossible to access by closing every clinic they can gets their hands on.”