by Steven Ertelt
January 4, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Outgoing Ohio Governor Bob Taft signed a bill Thursday that would limit abortion funding and pro-abortion counseling. The pro-life bill also expresses an official state policy that childbirth is preferred over abortion when it comes to a decision about an unplanned pregnancy.
The key component of the measure is a provision that makes permanent the administrative rules prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortions.
Current state rules going back to 1977 prohibit the use of state funds through Medicaid to pay for abortions except in the very rare instances of a pregnancy resulting from rape o incest or an abortion to save the life of the mother.
It also makes permanent more recent rules prohibiting the use of public funds to pay for abortion counseling and referrals.
The measure was drafted by state lawmakers and supported by Ohio Right to Life to make sure that incoming pro-abortion Gov. Ted Strickland did not contravene the rules and direct tax money to abortions.
Current budget language prevents using state Genetic Services funding for abortion counseling and referral but ORTL worries Strickland could line-item veto this in a future budget.
Keith Dailey, a spokesman for Gov.-elect Strickland, told the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper that he opposes the measure.
"He believes in a woman’s right to choose, and does not believe that a poor woman should be deprived of access to a legal medical procedure because she’s poor," he said.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL’s Ohio affiliate, also told the newspaper her group opposed the bill.
"They want to limit Gov. Strickland’s ability" she said of the pro-life lawmakers behind the legislation.
Becki Brenner, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, said her group also opposed the bill.
Rep. Michelle Schneider, a Republican from Madeira who was the prime sponsor, told the Cincinnati paper she is pleased the bill was approved with a provision giving people the right to file complaints against unlicensed abortion facilities.
Some abortion clinics have attempted to operate without the required Ambulatory Surgical Facility license and the measure would permit a private individual to bring an action to obtain an injunction requiring the facility to stop operating without a license.
"There are several [unlicensed abortion facilities] in the state of Ohio," she said. "All we want [for] them is either get a license or close to protect the safety of women."
Pro-life advocates like the childbirth over abortion section of the bill because it becomes a standard by which government programs may be measured and evaluated.
Ohio Right to Life director Denise Mackura told LifeNews.com that "By removing any endorsement for abortion, the State of Ohio can now be on the side of both women and their unborn children."
"The message of this law is clear – just because abortion is legal does not mean it is ever good for women and certainly not for their babies. Women and their families have far better alternatives available to them," Mackura added.
Ohio has a network of approximately 200 pregnancy help centers located throughout the state where women can obtain counseling, services and materials to help them during their pregnancies and after their baby is born, free of charge.
A toll-free number, 1-800-395-4357 will connect anyone with the closest service.
There are currently 19 abortion facilities in the state.
The legislation, House Bill 239, goes into effect in 90 days. It sailed through the state legislature with the state House approving it on a bipartisan 68-25 vote and the Senate supporting it 22-11.
Related web sites:
Ohio Right to Life – https://www.ohiolife.org