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Ohio Budget Includes Severe Anti-Abortion Provisions, Heads to Governor

Yesterday the Ohio state legislature passed a $62 billion budget that includes multiple anti-abortion provisions that could all but eliminate abortion access in the state.

The budget strips $2 million in family planning funds from Planned Parenthood. The budget then redirects family planning funds toward deceptive crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). CPCs are often owned and operated by churches or anti-abortion groups that pose as legitimate health centers. CPCs are not required to provide medically accurate information and often convey religious beliefs in an attempt to convince women to carry their pregnancies to term. The Ohio budget also includes a provision that would deny federal funding to rape crisis centers who provide information on abortion to rape victims.

Another provision of the Ohio budget as passed by the Senate could potentially close multiple abortion clinics throughout the state. The provision prohibits abortion clinics from having transfer agreements with public hospitals in cases where a patient needs additional care. However, in order for ambulatory surgical centers to be licensed by the state, they are required to have such transfer agreements in place. If a clinic is unable to locate or receive an agreement with a private hospital they will be forced to shut down.

Republican legislatures also added an ultrasound amendment late in the debate yesterday requiring doctors to determine if there is a fetal heartbeat and inform the woman of the likelihood it will survive to full term. The language used in the amendment reflects language from an unsuccessful attempt to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The budget passed on mostly party lines in both the state House and Senate. In the House, seven Republicans joined the Democrats in voting against the bill, but it was passed in a 53 to 44 vote. In the Senate only one Republican joined the Democrats in the voting no. It was passed 21 to 11, with three lawmakers who did not vote.

The only person who can change the budget now is Governor John Kasich (R), who must sign the budget by 11:59pm on Sunday. Kasich has not said whether he will do a line item veto on any of the abortion provisions. "I think the Legislature has a right to stick things in budgets and put policy in budgets," Kasich told reporters. "I'll look at the language, keeping in mind that I'm pro-life."

Media Resources: Associated Press 6/28/2013; USA Today 6/27/2013, 6/26/2013; Feminist Newswire 6/7/2013

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