Today, the Ohio House passed a bill to eliminate funding that allows Planned Parenthood to provide tens of thousands of Ohioans with essential reproductive health care services — including programs for expectant and new mothers; youth education through the Violence Against Women Act; STI testing; confidential HIV/AIDS programs; and lifesaving cancer screenings. This legislation passed despite widespread opposition from women and men across Ohio — including supporters and patients at the statehouse today protesting the dangerous legislation.
This past year alone, the programs targeted in this bill helped Planned Parenthood health centers in Ohio provide over 47,000 STI tests and over 3,600 HIV tests, serve nearly 2,800 new or expectant mothers through infant mortality prevention programs, and provide over 600 young people in the juvenile and foster care systems with educational services and comprehensive sexuality education.
This bill specifically targets funding for the “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” program that aims to prevent infant mortality — despite the fact that Ohio has the highest infant mortality rates for African Americans in the nation. And despite an embarrassing record of sex education in Ohio, this legislation eliminates funding used for sex education in youth in foster care and the juvenile detention system, and funding to educate women about healthy relationships and domestic violence through the Violence Against Women Act.
If Kasich signs this bill, it would make it even harder for Ohioans to access to these critical services. Kelli Arthur Hykes, who is the Director of Public Health Policy at Columbus Public Health, testified in opposition to this bill saying:
“Local health departments don’t have the capacity to take on all the displaced patients. For example, in Columbus, we estimate that with additional funding, we would be able to grow our sexual health and women’s health services by about 10% over the next few years. This would barely put a dent in the anticipated need, especially if there is an immediate loss of funding for Planned Parenthood before a local health department could ramp up services.”
If these Planned Parenthood programs are cut, there are not enough providers in Ohio poised to accommodate their patients. Of the 28 Planned Parenthood health centers in Ohio, 26 of them are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that without Planned Parenthood, many patients would literally have nowhere else to turn for essential, preventive reproductive health care.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“The Ohio legislature is playing politics with reproductive health care, and women are paying the price. This bill doesn’t just threaten access to basic preventive care for tens of thousands of Ohioans who rely on Planned Parenthood — it targets commonsense programs that are working, like evidence-based sex education, infant mortality prevention, HIV and STI testing, and teen dating violence prevention programs. John Kasich has systematically enacted measure after measure to make it more difficult for women to access reproductive care and safe and legal abortion – and now, under his leadership, it could get even worse.”
Statement from Stephanie Kight, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio:
“Testimony given by people all around our state–from Planned Parenthood staff to community partners–demonstrated that women and men rely on Planned Parenthood. Their stories and experiences directly contradict what is being said by the legislators who support this bill. Their blatant disregard for the truth and the well-being of Ohioans is shameful. They are willing to disrupt community programs that help some of our most vulnerable citizens, all to score cheap political points. These are not the leaders that the people of our state deserve.”
This bill is yet another attempt by John Kasich and the Ohio state legislature to advance an extreme anti-abortion agenda. Through budget provisions and legislation, John Kasich has signed 17 anti-women’s health measures, decimating women’s access to health care in Ohio.
– He passed a budget that included cuts to Planned Parenthood funding, putting at risk the thousands of women who live in medically underserved counties in Ohio.
– He supported a budget provision that blocked grant money for state-funded rape crisis centers that refer women for abortion.
– Kasich enacted measures subjecting women to forced ultrasounds.
– He signed provisions that have shuttered 5 abortion providers in the state, making it more difficult to access safe and legal abortion in Ohio.