COLUMBUS, Ohio — A state law in Ohio that effectively defunds Planned Parenthood is legal, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday in a split decision. The state passed a law in 2016 that banned state funds from going to medical providers that offer abortions.
In 2018, the Sixth Circuit unanimously found that Ohio’s law was unconstitutional. The state appealed, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the earlier decision March 12, with a 11-6 vote.
Judge Jeffrey Sutton, who authored the majority opinion, said that Ohio had no constitutional requirement to provide money to any private organization, Planned Parenthood or otherwise.
“The state may choose to not subsidize constitutionally protected activities,” wrote Sutton. “Just as it has no obligation to provide a platform for an individual’s free speech,” the state has “no obligation to pay for a woman’s abortion.”
Planned Parenthood operates 26 facilities in Ohio and will lose about $1.5 million in state funds as a result of this decision.
Catherine Glenn Foster, the president and CEO of Americans United for Life, told CNA that she agreed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that Planned Parenthood has “no constitutional ‘right’ to offer women abortions, nor to receive public taxpayer dollars for doing so.”
“I applaud the court’s strong denunciation of Planned Parenthood for claiming to represent the best interests of women when it advocates for unlimited abortion, as if that were either a health-based or justice-minded approach to the gift of human life,” said Foster.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio CEO Iris Harvey described the decision as a “devastating blow” for the people of Ohio and pledged to “continue to fight” for its patients.
Dr. Leana Wen, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that the decision will result in serious damage to public health in Ohio.
“I recently visited our Ohio health centers, where I saw for myself the public-health necessity of our Planned Parenthood programs that reduce maternal and infant mortality, cut STI and HIV rates, and provide breast and cervical cancer screenings,” said Wen.
No Planned Parenthood businesses provide mammography services, and last year Planned Parenthood performed 58,612 more abortions than pap smears nationwide. Last year, Planned Parenthood provided 2,831 adoption referrals — a rate of one adoption referral for every 117 abortions.
None of Planned Parenthood’s locations in Ohio advertise that they offer prenatal-care services. All advertise that they provide either abortion services or referrals for an abortion.
Due to the numerous legal challenges, the law never had a chance to go into effect. It is unclear when this will happen.