Kasich signs bill to defund Planned Parenthood

Posted at 12:51 PM, Feb 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-21 15:41:00-05

Gov. John Kasich signed legislation Sunday to strip government money from Planned Parenthood in Ohio, a day after the Republican presidential contender's weak performance in his party's South Carolina primary.

The expected action came despite calls for a veto by some legislative Democrats and several newspaper editorials.

“With his decision today to sign House Bill 294, Governor Kasich has finally answered the question of whose side he’s really on," said Chairman David Pepper, of the Ohio Democratic Party, in a statement. "Rather than listen to the majority of Ohioans who oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, Kasich decided to take sides with radical extremists who were recently indicted on felony charges. Kasich is no moderate. He is firmly in the Tea Party’s pocket. Under Kasich’s right-wing leadership, Ohio is now competing with Texas and Louisiana for worst state in the nation for women’s health.”

The governor did not sign the bill in public. His office made the announcement in a statement.

The legislation targets the roughly $1.3 million in funding that Planned Parenthood receives through Ohio's health department. The money, which is mostly federal, supports HIV testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and prevention of violence against women.

The legislation prohibits such funds from going to entities that perform or promote abortions, their affiliates and those that contract with an entity that performs abortions.

In a statement, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox said:

“Not one more penny should go to Planned Parenthood, a scandal-plagued abortion business that does not provide comprehensive health care services for women. Ohio’s new law terminates funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses, freeing up money for more widely available and more comprehensive low-cost healthcare options for women and families in the state. Taxpayer dollars should not go to organizations with a long track record of abusive and potentially fraudulent billing practices, that have been caught in authenticated undercover videos negotiating prices for baby body parts, and that have repeatedly failed to report the sexual abuse of girls. Ohio is right to end its relationship with organizations undeserving of taxpayer money and unworthy of the taxpayers’ trust.” 

The bill doesn't name Planned Parenthood but backers of the legislation have acknowledged the organization will be the most affected. They want the money to go to health centers and other providers that do not perform abortions.

Opponents say the measure puts politics ahead of people's health care.

Amelia Hayes, Managing Director of Public Affairs with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, released the following statement:

“Today tens of thousands of Ohioans were betrayed by their government. After months of being presented with evidence of the good Planned Parenthood does, it is astounding that the leaders in our state have willfully ignored facts and their citizens in order to fall into political lockstep.

Gov. Kasich should be ashamed for claiming he is invested in the fight against infant mortality while simultaneously defunding one of the best programs in the state for young mothers and their children. It is a sad day when the desire to score political points, overtakes the commitment to the health and safety of Ohioans.

While this legislation will irreparably harm the lives of women, men and families across the state, Planned Parenthood will continue to serve them in every way we possibly can.  We will come to work tomorrow and every day after that ready to do what we do best – provide affordable, respectful, high quality health care to Ohioans.”

State and federal laws already prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

A Planned Parenthood leader in Ohio has emphasized the organization's doors would remain open, but its community health programs would be cut. The group says programs targeted in the bill helped Planned Parenthood in the last year to provide more than 47,000 STD tests and 3,600 HIV tests to Ohioans, serve nearly 2,800 new or expectant mothers, and inform young people and women about healthy relationships.

Lawmakers approved the legislation Feb. 10, but Kasich's office did not receive it until Thursday.

The measure follows an outcry among abortion opponents around the country after the release of secretly recorded videos by activists alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue to researchers for a profit in violation of federal law.

Planned Parenthood has called the videos misleading and denied any wrongdoing, saying a handful of its clinics provided fetal tissue for research while receiving only permissible reimbursement for costs.

Three of Planned Parenthood's 28 locations in Ohio provide abortions. The organization has said it has no fetal tissue donation program in Ohio, where such donations are illegal.

Kasich's team did not immediately return's requests for comment.