Advocates for Planned Parenthood are upset because Republican leaders in the Ohio House have attached a proposal to the two year state budget that would re-prioritize federal funding for family planning in a way that would put the organization at the back of the line.
But the funding cut isn’t all they are worried about in this budget. They also take issue with an amendment that was mysteriously included in the bill that would levy criminal fines for teachers who talk about gateway sexual activity. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports on how their last minute fight to get both proposals removed from the house budget.
Democratic Senator Nina Turner says these provisions are part of a war on women in this budget.
Turner – It is women today. Who will it be tomorrow. We must continue to stand up and lift our voices and push back on the ridiculousness that is going on in the Ohio House. We will not go back. We will not go back women. Our foremothers fought too hard. We will not go back.
Stephanie Kight with Planned Parenethood of Greater Ohio says if the Ohio House allows these provisions to stay in the budget, many more young Ohio women will end up with sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancies. And she says Ohio will end up paying a big price tag.
Kight – When Texas tried a scheme like this, their cost of providing care went up 15%. We don’t have that kind of money in Ohio to increase our costs.
Democratic State Senator Capri Cafaro says lawmakers dealing with the budget need to focus on education, jobs and real budget items instead of sex.
Cafaro – Last time I checked, members of the General Assembly were not elected to be the sex police, ok? (applause fade under)
Cafaro calls this an extreme war on women.
Coats – Let me tell you what an extreme war on women is. An extreme war on women is that most of the babies that are aborted are female. That’s an extreme war on women.
That’s John Coats, the head of Ohio Right to Life. He says reprioritizing federal funds would mean more health care services for more women in rural areas. And Coats he makes this analogy about having Planned Parenthood be in charge of those federal dollars now.
Coats – It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse. It’s like someone that wants to throw the stone and hide their hand. They say they want help women and yet they provide abortion services.
The bill to reprioritize funding for Planned Parenthood is not new. Efforts to pass that bill failed during the lame duck session of the last general assembly. But the amendment to make it illegal for sex ed to include gateway sexual activity is new. The Republican leader of the Ohio House Finance Committee, Representative Ron Amstutz, isn’t saying which lawmaker introduced the sex ed amendment into the budget. He says he wants to have a conversation about it.
Amstutz – Since there’s so much interest in this amendment, perhaps I need to go back and read it again and then we can have more conversation about it.
He’s not alone. Republican House Speaker Batchelder says he also wants to take a closer look at it too. When asked to define what gateway sexual activity is, Batchelder responds this way:
Batchelder – I am a little bit older than most people here so I don’t have a total understanding of these things. However, I believe it has something to do with suggesting people should engage in practices people of my generation wouldn’t think so.
Ingles – But is that clearly defined because if you put it into law, you are going to have to prosecute teachers for this so you have to have it spelled out pretty clearly?
Batchelder- My recollection is it’s a matter for a civil suit.
Ingles – Well there’s a 5000 dollar fine to…up to.
Batchelder – Civil fine
Ingles – yes.
Batchelder – Well, I can’t speak to it. It wasn’t the law when I was a judge.
Batchelder says he and other lawmakers will be getting more details about the gateway sexual activity amendment as well as the Planned Parenthood funding reprioritization plan in a meeting with other legislative leaders tonight.
Batchelder – I’m confident that tonight there will be full discussion of probably anything to do with sex.