Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ohio Senate Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood, Bill's Sponsor Says It's "Not About Women's Healthcare"

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 4:49 PM

click to enlarge screen_shot_2015-10-22_at_4.47.11_pm.png
After voting on a bill that would directly affect women's health care in the state of Ohio, Ohio Senate president and the bill's sponsor Keith Faber said, "This bill is not about women's health care."

What he meant to say was: "My reason for bringing this bill to a vote is not about women's health care."

Because the bill, of course, is very much about women's health care. It would stop about $1.3 million in state funds from going to Planned Parenthood. It would also dictate that federal money for a spectrum of health services — HIV screenings, cervical and breast cancer programs — only be given to organizations that don't provide or contract with organizations that provide abortions. As a reminder, Planned Parenthood has 28 locations across Ohio. Only 3, for a variety of reasons, provide abortions.

Anyway, the Ohio Senate voted 23-10 (along party lines). Some fun facts about the Ohio state Senate:
- 33 members. 26 men; 7 women.
- 23 Republicans; 10 Democrats

The bill itself came through the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Some fun facts about that committee:
- 12 members. 11 men; 1 woman.
- 9 Republicans; 3 Democrats.

Why's a women's health care bill going through Government Oversight and not the health committee? Good question. (Some fun facts about the Health and Human Services Committee:  11 members. 5 women; 6 men. 8 Republicans; 3 Democrats.)

click to enlarge The Government Oversight Committee
  • The Government Oversight Committee

Government Oversight committee chairman Bill Coley (R) had this to say on why it was his committee and not Health and Human Services that ushered in the bill: "We're not talking about health issues. We're trying to get a better spread of that money throughout the state." 

As for what actual women felt about the bill — largely crafted and passed by many, many upper class white men — two of the Senate's seven women had this to say. Via Mark Kovac:

"I was disappointed that I was the only female on the committee," said Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo). "I was disappointed that most people testifying [were] limited to 120 seconds... When this body decides to make major changes to the availability of health care for women and men in our state, everyone should be given the opportunity to fully express their views."

Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) said many residents use Planned Parenthood for needed services, including pregnancy testing and prenatal care, cancer screenings and HIV testing.

"Those who support the bill would rather deny access to these critical health services than have the money to flow through Planned Parenthood," she said, adding later, "There is simply not enough capacity within the health care system to absorb patients currently served by" Planned Parenthood's 28 locations in Ohio.

Another woman, Senator Capri Cafaro (D), had this to say (via the NEOMG article linked earlier):

Sen. Capri Cafaro, a Hubbard Democrat, said most of those facilities won't be able to provide reproductive health services and information to patients who currently visit Planned Parenthood centers. Cafaro surveyed the health departments and health centers in her district and found many of them did not provide family planning or gynecological services and ones that did had weeks-long wait lists.

"Just because it physically exists doesn't necessarily mean it would provide the services that would go away if Planned Parenthood were to not receive funding," Cafaro told her colleagues from the Senate floor.

And have the bill's sponsors and proponents, in their haste to bring the bill to a vote and passage, done research on how the bill would affect the very healthcare providers they say would receive funds instead of PP? Doesn't sound like it, and it doesn't sound like anyone really knows yet.

Sen. Kenny Yuko, a Cleveland Democrat, requested information last week about the impact of the bill on these programs. The Ohio Department of Health replied Tuesday that it would need another week to determine how many entities would be affected by Senate Bill 214.

Which brings us back to Keith Faber, the bill's sponsor. When he said, "This bill is not about women's health care," he really wasn't lying, and he elaborated immediately on what the bill's really all about to him and his supporters: "It's about whether we're going to fund an organization that has its senior leadership nationally, who by the way get money from Ohio, who believe it's good public policy to chop up babies in a way it makes their parts more valuable so they can buy a Lamborghini."

That's, of course, a reference to the controversial Planned Parenthood videos involving fetal tissue donation. Worth noting here: fetal tissue donation is illegal in Ohio and the videos, which are still facing criticism for being highly edited and out of context, weren't filmed in the state.

The bill now heads to the Ohio house.

To read an account of what actually happens on a normal day inside a Planned Parenthood location, read this tremendous piece from the Washington Post detailing the operation in Akron.

For a petition to tell Ohio legislators to not defund Planned Parenthood, click here.

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