Columbus — Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region has announced the closure of its health centers in Western Hills and Springdale, in the greater Cincinnati area. While neither clinic provides abortion care, both had received financial support through Title X, the federal government’s program to ensure access to reproductive health care for lower income individuals. The Trump administration recently enacted a gag order that prohibits any clinic receiving Title X funding from referring patients for abortion care, or discussing the procedure. Rather than limit the ability of their staff to discuss the full range of reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood will no longer participate in the Title X program. The organization has also been banned from receiving state funding under laws enacted by former Governor John Kasich that were designed to further an extremist, anti-choice agenda.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland: “Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider. Nearly 100,000 patients in Ohio rely on Title X funding to cover life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, testing for HIV, treatments for sexually transmitted infections, prescription birth control and emergency contraception, and assistance following a sexual assault. Patients who relied on these Planned Parenthood health centers will now have to scramble to find a new doctor. They may face longer travel times and waits for appointments, if they are lucky enough to find a doctor who is accepting new patients. None of this was necessary. All of this is because Republicans from the Ohio Statehouse to the White House do not care about the negative consequences that come with their extreme anti-abortion agenda.”
Hamilton County is one of three counties with the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in Ohio for 2018, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Governor Kasich’s administration blocked Planned Parenthood from providing health care and education through several publicly funded programs in 2016. This law ended access to more than 70,000 free STI screenings that Planned Parenthood provided through the CDC STD Prevention program. It also cut more than 5,000 free HIV and STI tests for individuals with higher risk factors for HIV, particularly within communities of African American women and men who have sex with men. That was paired with cuts to the largest infant mortality prevention program in the state — Planned Parenthood’s Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program — despite Ohio having one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation among Black babies. When state politicians block access Planned Parenthood health centers, STI rates skyrocket. In Iowa and Texas, 30,000 patients went without birth control and other reproductive health care. Forcing Planned Parenthood to close its doors will harm people’s lives.
Ohio politicians like Senator Portman, Congressman Chabot, and Governor DeWine have led Ohioans off a cliff, leaving thousands without the provider they know and trust. Ohio politicians have passed 22 anti-women’s health measures in recent years, including a defunding bill that went into effect earlier this year, and nearly half of all health centers that provided safe, legal abortion have closed since 2011. The Trump administration continues to embolden state politicians who are designing a system that blocks people from accessing the health care they need to control their bodies, lives, and futures: one where patients lose access to birth control, where information about how to access abortion is held hostage, and where if you don’t have money, it’s almost impossible to access an STI test or a cancer screening.
Copeland continued: “We know that Planned Parenthood will not back down from this fight —their patients are too important. We stand with Planned Parenthood, and with people in Ohio, who for 90 years have trusted Planned Parenthood to provide life-saving health care and education services. We cannot let what’s happening to thousands of patients in Cincinnati happen to millions more across the country. The Title X gag rule is designed to keep doctors from discussing all of a patient’s options—including abortion. This gag rule will keep millions of people from accessing birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and care at Planned Parenthood. It’s time for Senator Portman and his Senate colleagues to act now, before more health centers close.”