by German Lopez
Pro-choice groups rebuke Ohio House Republicans’ budget plan
Pro-choice groups are criticizing Ohio House Republicans’
budget plan for pulling money from Planned Parenthood and shifting
federal dollars to “anti-choice” crisis pregnancy centers.
The Ohio House Republicans’ budget plan would redirect federal
funding for family planning services in a way that would strip funding
for Planned Parenthood and family planning providers.
During hearings at the Ohio House Finance and
Appropriations Committee today, multiple women’s health advocates,
ranging from health experts to members of Planned Parenthood, said these
services mostly benefit low-income women, particularly in rural areas. On the other side, representatives from anti-abortion groups spoke in support of the Ohio
House Republicans’ measures, citing health care options, family values, abstinence and
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice
Ohio, says the defunding measure has become a recurring trend for Ohio Republicans, who
have taken up the Planned Parenthood measure multiple times in the past
couple years. But she says the threat could have more weight this
“This feels different,” Copeland says. “They’ve always
kind of tried to hide it before. This time they were a lot more upfront
about it. It seems like they may be willing to put political capital
into this fight this time.”
A separate section of the Ohio House Republicans’ budget
plan redirects federal funding to a program that will fund
crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which provide abstinence-only family
Some researchers have found abstinence-only programs to be ineffective. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health
found abstinence-only programs have no impact on rates for teenage
pregnancy or vaginal intercourse, while comprehensive programs that
include birth control education reduce rates. A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Georgia that looked at data from 48 states concurred abstinence-only programs do not reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy. The study indicated states with the lowest teenage pregnancy rates tend to have the most comprehensive sex and HIV education programs.Still, a 2010 study from a University of Pennsylvania researcher found abstinence-only education programs may delay sexual activity. The study, which tracked black middle school students over two years, found students in an abstinence-only program had lower rates of sexual activity than students in the comprehensive program.A study released in January by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio found CPCs routinely mislead patients. The study, which looked at CPCs
around Ohio in an “undercover investigation,” said 47 percent of CPCs
give misleading information about mental health problems and abortion,
and 38 percent provide false information about the connection between
breast cancer, infertility and abortion.
Some supporters say the Ohio House Republicans’ budget
measures aren’t specifically about Planned Parenthood, abortion or birth
control. Instead, they argue they’re trying to establish more
health care options for women.
But the providers that would be able to get more funding
already apply for it; they just lose out to Planned Parenthood’s
services, which are deemed superior by state officials who distribute
the funds during the competitive distribution process.
Copeland says “no thinking person” should fall for the
reasoning given by Republicans and supporters who say abortion is not
one of their concerns.
“They’re trying to impose their morals on you,” Copeland
says. “These are not health care experts. These are not people who are
trying to find real solutions for the problems that real people face.
These are people who want to impose their personal views, their personal
morality on you.”
Some anti-abortion supporters, including Denise
Leipold of Right to Life of Northeast Ohio, say abortion and broader
cultural issues are absolutely part of the reason they support the Ohio House
Republicans’ budget plan.
“Our mission is to support the right to life from
conception to natural death,” Leipold says. “Abortion happens to be a big
problem right now because in the past 40 years it’s become part of the
She adds, “Now kids are learning that responsible sex
means that you can have sex but just use birth control. That’s not
supposed to be the attitude. The attitude is supposed to be that sex is
for a committed relationship between a man and a woman in a marital
During testimony today, Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, asked state legislators to support
the organization’s numerous medical services, including women’s health,
family planning and sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment.
Kight also said state and federal funds do not go to abortions. Planned Parenthood’s abortion services are instead funded by private donations.
At the hearings, Republican State Rep. Ron Maag asked
Kight why Planned Parenthood doesn’t shut down its three abortion
clinics in Ohio if those clinics are potentially threatening the “good
work” Planned Parenthood does elsewhere. Kight said Planned Parenthood
believes its abortion services are “good work.”