U.S. Court of Appeals blocks Ohio from defunding Planned Parenthood
CINCINNATI, Ohio, April 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Ohio cannot defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, according to a federal court.
A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the state cannot enforce a 2016 law forbidding the distribution of federal health subsidies to any entity that commits or promotes elective abortions. The law stood to defund 28 Planned Parenthood facilities and deprive Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Southwest Ohio of almost $1.5 million.
In her decision, Judge Helene White claimed that Planned Parenthood has a “due process right” to perform abortions, and that making tax dollars contingent on not perform abortions violated its “right not to be penalized in the administration of government programs based on protected activity outside the programs.”
The judge added that the law was “unnecessary to accomplish Ohio's choices to favor childbirth and refrain from subsidizing abortions,” because the “program funds here have nothing to do with abortion and for decades both federal and Ohio law have prohibited the use of government funds to pay for abortions.”
Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis denounced the ruling in a press release Wednesday.
“The Constitution does not give private corporations the right to taxpayer dollars. Planned Parenthood receives countless tax dollars a year from hardworking Ohioans, which frees up their budget to fund their real priorities: abortion on demand,” he said. “We trust that pro-life Attorney General Mike DeWine will defend this law that protects the conscience rights of Ohio taxpayers at the Supreme Court, and that activist judges won’t get the final say in this matter.”
In his brief to the panel, DeWine addressed the claim that defunding was unnecessary because recipients that also committed abortions could not spend those funds on abortion.
Patients could “visit Planned Parenthood to receive program services, but get counseling about abortion and receive a referral for one,” he wrote. Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s “representative detailed how a patient could be referred through Ohio’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project, but end up at a surgical center for an abortion. A similar sequence of events could occur for a patient who comes into Planned Parenthood under the STD Prevention Program.”
“PPSWO’s Chief Operating Officer admitted that PPSWO does not actually compare its costs for Breast and Cervical Cancer Project services to the revenue that comes in through that program’s vouchers,” the brief continued. “Any surplus from these vouchers would go toward Planned Parenthood’s general overhead for health centers, the activities of which include abortion counseling and referrals.”
A spokesman for the state attorney general’s office told Cleveland.com that it was currently reviewing the decision and considering whether to appeal it. DeWine can request either a review by the entire 6th Circuit, or submit the case to the US Supreme Court.