Pro-abortion activists have lost a major battle in Ohio after a judge ruled that a state ban on funding for Planned Parenthood is legal. After a debate centered on what states have to permit under the Constitution, balanced against what they’re obliged to provide funding or resources for, an appeals judge decided that a ban on funding for abortion isn’t the same as a ban on abortion itself. This means Ohio taxpayers can’t be compelled to hand over money to the controversial family-planning organization.
When Ohio passed a law cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood in 2016, they knew it was going to be controversial. Sure enough, abortion activists — and Planned Parenthood themselves — launched a series of challenges and, last year, a panel of judges ruled that the law was unconstitutional. The state fought back, asking for a full court hearing, and the law has now been vindicated.
- The law, originally passed in 2016 and signed by Governor John Kasich, banned the payment of state funds to any medical provider that offers abortions. Crucially, it didn’t place any restrictions on offering abortions; it just barred the use of taxpayer money to do it.
- Before the law could be enacted, it was blocked by a series of court cases. These culminated in a decision last year, by a judicial panel from the 6th Circuit Court, that it was an unconstitutional restriction on access to medical services.
- Challenging this decision, the state asked for a hearing by a full court rather than just three judges. This request was granted.
- The court hearing was carried out by the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and concluded on Tuesday, March 12th. In an 11-6 opinion, it decided that the law is constitutional, as it doesn’t interfere with the right to seek an abortion established by Roe v. Wade.
- Writing in the opinion, Judge Jeffrey Sutton said, “Private organizations do not have a constitutional right to obtain governmental funding to support their activities. The state also may choose not to subsidize constitutionally protected activities. Just as it has no obligation to provide a platform for an individual’s free speech … it has no obligation to pay for a woman’s abortion.”
- There are 26 Planned Parenthood centers in Ohio, and right now they collect a total of about $1.5 million a year in state subsidies. As soon as the law goes into effect, that will end, so the group is not likely to give up without a fight. However, for now, it looks like Ohio’s pro-life movement is winning this battle.