the Beacon Journal editorial board
Recall how the effort to strip Planned Parenthood of $1.3 million in state funds gained new momentum. Republicans at a the Statehouse leaped to condemn the organization after secretly recorded videos surfaced last summer purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials seeking to profit illegally from the sale of fetal tissue.
On Wednesday, the Republican majority in the Ohio Senate took the most recent step. It approved legislation barring any organization that performs or promotes abortions from receiving funding through the state Department of Health for programs such as HIV testing, cancer screenings and sex education. The House is expected to concur next month. The measure then would go to the governor for his signature.
The bill doesn’t name Planned Parenthood, but it is the target. It remains so even though the videos were exposed as the products of heavy editing and deception. A grand jury in Texas looking into the allegations against Planned Parenthood cleared the organization of wrongdoing this week.
Instead, it indicted the two abortion opponents who conducted the scheme. Investigations in Ohio and other states reached similar ends concerning Planned Parenthood.
Mike DeWine, the state attorney general, found that the organization does not trade in fetal parts. Still, he couldn’t resist the partisan play — to his embarrassment in the end. His claim that Planned Parenthood crossed the line in how it disposed of fetal tissue fell apart under scrutiny.
None of this gave the legislative majority much pause. Proponents contend the measure would enhance the quality of health care for women by spreading state dollars more broadly across the state. They overlook that many women, especially in disadvantaged areas, prefer Planned Parenthood. More, the organization has received funding in the past because its work has been rated highly for quality and cost-effectiveness.
So, why take that away? One argument revives criticism about the money indirectly supporting abortions. Yet this matter was addressed decades ago through the compromise barring coverage of abortions with public funds.
For their part, critics of the legislation warn that the Republican majority has not weighed fully the potential consequences, and not just for women who use the array of services provided by Planned Parenthood. Opponents rightly caution that loose language in the bill may lead to funding complications for local hospitals and public health departments.
In the past, this editorial page has urged John Kasich to veto legislation in which the Republican majorities have gone too far in restricting abortion rights. Then, the Associated Press reported last fall that the air of neutrality suggested by the governor amounted to deception on his part. His staff had a hand in writing the legislation.
Still, it is worth trying again, even with the governor preoccupied as he makes his presidential run. No doubt, he opposes abortion. At the same time, he talks about bringing opportunity to those in tough circumstances. That is the mission of Planned Parenthood, essentially, achieved through family planning. It provides health services that elevate lives, a mission the governor shares, and why he should veto this bill.