This week, Planned Parenthood locations all across Ohio were notified by the Ohio Department of Health that they would no longer receive funding in accordance with state law.
Their funding was revoked after a federal appeals court ruling upheld an Ohio law instated in 2016 which forbids the state from providing preventative health funding to any organization that “performs or promotes” non-therapeutic abortions. A non-therapeutic abortion is any abortion that is not considered a medical necessity. The president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, Iris Harvey, called the decision “heartless” and said that it puts “politics over people,” according to the Associated Press.
Last year, Planned Parenthood was given a total of $600,000 in grants by the ODH, reports Cleveland’s Metro News. Among the programs funded by state grants are five programs aimed at reducing infant mortality rates, sexual assault services, breast and cervical cancer prevention programs, the minority HIV/AIDS initiative, and the sexually transmitted disease control program. These programs are provided at little to no cost to patients.
Prior to this law passing, it was already illegal to use taxpayer money to fund abortion services, as per the federal Hyde Amendment. The only exception to the Hyde Amendment is for women seeking an abortion because their pregnancy is life-threatening, or if it resulted from incest or rape.
Of the 26 locations across the state, three provide abortions; however, these clinics do not use public funding for the procedure. Instead, they are funded by two nonprofits – Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region.
On March 12, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled to reverse a federal judge’s declaration that the 2016 law was unconstitutional. Amy Acton, director of the ODH, submitted a letter responding to Planned Parenthood’s appeal, describing it as a “delay tactic.” Acton maintained that Planned Parenthood’s loss of funding was insignificant and would not irreparably harm the organization.
Abortion rights have been eroding nationwide at an increasing rate. In the last year, hundreds of measures to restrict abortion access and women’s reproductive rights have been introduced. Some states have passed what is known as a “trigger law,” which will automatically make abortion illegal should Roe v. Wade be overturned. While restrictions on a national level are being introduced and debated, it is at the state level where the most drastic changes are being made.