Republican lawmakers in Ohio Wednesday voted to move Planned Parenthood and its affiliated state clinics to the back of line for receiving federal money in an effort that Democrats charged was aimed at disrupting family planning services.
According to the Dayton Daily News
, a bill passed by the state House Health and Aging Committee sets up a tiered system of awarding federal grants that puts public health agencies that don't provide abortions at the top of the list and family planning centers that do at the bottom.
Republican supporters, however, insist the measure, which has passed only one committee so far, would increase the number of health facilities that receive federal money and women's options for services.
Democrats said they were surprised at the move so soon after the election in which several pro-life Republican candidates who had called for the elimination of Planned Parenthood and other clinics that offer abortion services were defeated.
Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Republican Gov. John Kasich, declined to comment on the measure, although he said Kasich supports policies that “protect the sanctity of life.”
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio gets about $1.6 million each year in federal funds distributed through the Ohio Department of Health. The organization could lose up to 10 percent of its funding if the bill passes the legislature.
Stephanie Kight, president of Planned Parenthood operations in Ohio, told lawmakers before a committee vote on the bill that the organization keeps separate books and timesheets on abortion services, since federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions.
She noted that Ohio’s 32 Planned Parenthood centers serve nearly 100,000 women, providing mostly preventive care, which includes breast exams and contraception.
Several doctors also testified against the bill, saying they refer patients to Planned Parenthood for many reasons, including screenings for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.
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