FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2016
Signs Law Slashing Critical Health Services Statewide As Part of Political Attack on Planned Parenthood
Amid an increasingly heated Republican presidential primary, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced that on Sunday he will sign one of the most sweeping anti-choice laws in the nation—one that could have devastating implications for public health services across the state. The law, HB 294, is aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood but could have the effect of blocking entire cities and counties from accessing critical public health funding.
“Gov. Kasich is throwing Ohio families under the bus to advance his own presidential ambitions,” said Sasha Bruce, senior vice president for campaigns and strategy at NARAL Pro-Choice America. “This kind of political posturing is despicable and only further erodes access to quality and affordable health care, including access to abortion and contraception. Instead of attacking our reproductive freedom and undermining critical public health services, Gov. Kasich should be promoting policies that empower women and families across Ohio to achieve economic success.”
“This isn’t governance. It is cowardice,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “The sponsors of this bill have denied the dangerous effects this bill will have on public health departments that could lose state funds. Now, Gov. Kasich is hiding from Ohioans as he strips away funding for HIV testing and cancer screenings. The only thing not hidden is the contempt John Kasich had for providers of safe, legal abortions.”
The City of Columbus was so alarmed by the potential for losing funding for services such as infant mortality prevention and HIV/AIDS treatment in communities of color that their director of public health testified in opposition to the law. Health officials in Youngstown also raised concerns that the law would undermine their efforts to reduce infant mortality rates in northeast Ohio.
To read more about how HB 294 goes well beyond previous efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, click here.
“Gov. Kasich needs to explain why he has approved legislation when there are so many unanswered questions,” Copeland continued. “Proponents claim public health departments and federally qualified health centers will pick up where Planned Parenthood is blocked. However, none of these health care providers have come forward to say they will be able to do so. In fact, officials from the City of Columbus and Mahoning County have come forward to say that this new law will harm — not help — their ability to provide care in their communities. John Kasich is unfit to be president because he is hurting women and families for his own political gain.”
The law’s broad wording could have sweeping consequences since its funding ban applies to existing contracts between local health departments and health care facilities, hospitals, or insurance providers. Any city or county health department that works with an independent abortion provider, or contracts with a hospital that performs a single abortion in which the pregnancy is not due to rape or incest, or does not endanger the woman’s life, would be blocked from receiving listed state funds.
The law could prohibit cities and counties from accessing public health funding for these vital public health initiatives supported by the Ohio Department of Health:
- Domestic-violence prevention
- Breast and cervical cancer screening
- Infertility prevention
- HIV/AIDS treatment in communities of color
- Infant mortality prevention
- Comprehensive sex education for teens in foster care and juvenile detention
This timing of the bill’s passage has also become a story line, with the Republican-controlled state legislature seeming to intentionally delay final passage of the bill until the day after the New Hampshire primary.