Tuesday [17 Nov 15], the Ohio House of Representatives passed Substitute House Bill 294 to block abortion providers in Ohio from qualifying for five funding programs administered by the Ohio Department of Health. The chamber adopted the measure 62-30 after lengthy debate.
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Representatives Margaret Conditt (Butler County) and Bill Patmon (Cleveland), now moves to the Ohio Senate, which adopted their own version of the same language (SB 214) in October.
Pro-life leaders from around the state of Ohio attended the Ohio House session during debate, including leaders from Ohio Prolife Action, Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, Cleveland Right to Life, and Citizens for Community Values. While generally supportive of the House action, these leaders noted three missing pieces of concern.
“The legislation still doesn’t completely block Ohio tax dollars, whether state or federal in the form of Medicaid reimbursements, from increasing the coffers of organizations profiting from the killing of defenseless unborn children,” stated Molly Smith, President of Cleveland Right to Life. “Today they still did not address rescinding Medicaid contracts from these entities now under state and federal investigation.”
Abortion providers qualify for Medicaid reimbursements under certain conditions, as defined by state and federal code. The House bill only prohibits funding of certain programs granted to abortionists who perform “non-therapeutic” abortions, which means that babies conceived in rape or incest remain at risk for misnamed “therapeutic” abortions currently covered under Medicaid in Ohio.
“It is always a plus when public policy moves in the direction of protecting innocent preborn children and their mothers,” noted Paula Westwood, Executive Director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “However, it is troubling that abortionists may be able to manipulate the law and perform targeted abortions to still qualify for both Medicaid reimbursements and funding sources identified in this bill.”
Of note, whether the House or Senate version of the bill becomes the final version sent to Governor John Kasich for his signature, neither version contains an emergency clause to ensure that the bill goes into effect immediately. Without this clause, the legislation will not take effect until 90 days from date of signature.
Phil Burress, President of Citizens for Community Values (CCV), issued the following statement “CCV, which is an Ohio Family Policy Council for Focus on the Family and the Family Resource Council, believes that all funding sources flowing to abortion providers from the state of Ohio, should be immediately halted and these organizations prohibited by law from qualifying for these funds.
“Nearly 70 abortions occur daily in Ohio, and each day that a decision is delayed on enacting this solution is a travesty.”
“From this defunding bill’s launching point we plan to continue to work with legislative leadership to craft a complete solution, and ensure that citizens’ tax dollars are not used to undermine the stated policy of Ohio, which is to prefer childbirth over abortion,” commented Barry Sheets, legislative consultant for Ohio ProLife Action.
“It is common sense to re-direct these tax dollars to the many entities that provide quality health care without subsidizing the practice of abortion.”
[18 Nov 15, Barry Sheets, Legislative Consultant, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Columbus, OH]