Ohio Law to Defund Planned Parenthood Blocked by Court

Restrictions on federal funding (Title X) of Ohio’s 28 Planned Parenthood centers, set to go into effect on Monday, May 30, 2016 have been temporarily blocked by a U.S. District court.

In February, in the midst of his campaign seeking the Republican nomination for president, Gov. John Kasich signed into law a measure that would remove $1.3 million in mostly federal funds to any healthcare organization that provides or promotes abortions. On May 11, 2016, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Southwest Ohio filed suit challenging that mandate.

On Monday, May 23, 2016 Judge Michael R. Barrett of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled in a 20-page opinion that Ohio cannot implement that law at this time, granting a two-week stay while the court considers a request by Planned Parenthood for an injunction barring the new Ohio law to take effect, pending the outcome of Planned Parenthood of Ohio’s lawsuit.

Update June 2, 2016: Federal Judge Extends Stay Through August 8, 2016

Barrett’s opinion included his belief that the Ohio law was enacted specifically to make it more difficult for women seeking an abortion to be able to do so and that the healthcare agency had demonstrated its ability to win the pending lawsuit. Barrett wrote that the loss of the federal funding to Planned Parenthood would require the agency to “end health care and education programs and terminate employees, depriving thousands of Ohioans of high-quality, affordable health care services and education programs.

In his opinion, Barrett also explained that by allowing the scheduled loss of funds to Planned Parenthood on May 30 could cause irreparable harm to the agency and the people it serves, while the state of Ohio would not be substantially harmed by the two-week stay.

Judge Michael R. Barrett’s 20-page opinion in the Planned Parenthood restraining order against the state of Ohio available in full here:

Despite the controversy that began in the summer of 2015 when an anti-abortion activist accused employees of Planned Parenthood in some states of selling aborted fetuses and fetal parts, an allegation that was disproved both in Ohio and Texas, where the anti-abortionist was indicted for fraud – or perhaps because of the smokescreen provided by the misinformation, Ohio legislators, like some in other states, seized upon the opportunity to draft a law that would essentially cripple Planned Parenthood, which relied upon federal funding (Title X) for 20 percent of its revenue. The agency already receives no state taxpayer funding due an earlier enacted law.

In 2015, Planned Parenthood of Ohio served over 58,000 patients for a total of more than 120,000 visits. Eight-eight percent of the clients were female; 12 percent were male. Fifty-nine percent of those visits were well-woman and family planning visits; 33 percent were HIV/STI and infection visits; 5 percent were cancer screenings; 2 percent were for emergency contraception and 2 percent were for abortions. One-third of Planned Parenthood’s patients were at or below the poverty line.

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