As we start into the long July 4th holiday weekend, we also close out yet another Ohio state operating budget process, one that once again was hijacked by anti abortion extremists in the legislature in order to block access to abortion and other healthcare services and harm Ohioans.

This year’s budget included a myriad of anti-abortion, anti-sexuality education, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-voter items along with the perineal tax cuts for wealthy Republican voters while screwing over everyone else. Some highlights include:

  • Changing the laws around how an ambulatory surgical facility can apply for a variance, which is required if a facility cannot get a transfer agreement from a local hospital. Right now the only two ambulatory surgical facilities in Ohio with variances are abortion clinics, Women’s Med Center of Dayton, and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio in Cincinnati. These changes could put these facilities at risk. If we were to lose both clinics the entire Southwest Ohio region would be without an abortion provider.
  • Doubling down on Ohio’s antiquated anti-sex ed laws, making it harder for schools to teach comprehensive, medically accurate sex education.
  • Allocating $6 million to anti-abortion fake health centers that lie to and coerce people who come to them for information.
  • Allocating $2 million to abstinence only programming which use misinformation and scare tactics in place of facts and information.
  • Creating a refusal law that allows all medical professional (defined to include a broad swath of folks including insurance companies, medical billing folks and more!) to deny access to medical care if they have a “moral, ethical, or religious” objection to the care. We know that this will impact a wide range of folks, including those seeking abortion or other reproductive health care services and those in the LGBTQ+ community.

This is not the first time that the Republican supermajority has used the budget to sneak in last minute attacks on abortion access. In fact in each budget for the last decade there has been at least one attack on access to REAL reproductive health care, including abortion, in the state budget.

In addition to what was listed for the 2021 (2022-2023 fiscal years) budget above, here is a run-down of what we have seen in previous budget bills:

2019 (2020-2021 Fiscal Years)

  • Removed a proposed program to fund training in the provision of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) services.
  • Funded anti-abortion fake health centers at $7.5 million dollars.

2017 (2018-2019 Fiscal Years)

  • $2 million in funding for anti-abortion fake health centers.

2015 (2016-2017 Fiscal Years)

  • Eliminated optional Medicaid program covering family planning services to individuals making up to 200% of the federal poverty level.
  • $2 million in funding for anti-abortion fake health centers.
  • Changed the laws around the Ohio Department of Health granting variances for the transfer agreement requirement for an ambulatory surgical facility license, requiring that ODH rule on a variance application within 60 days of receipt, and if they do not, the application is automatically denied, resulting in a license revocation.
  • Changed the laws around what hospitals an ambulatory surgical facility can get a medically unnecessary transfer agreement from, previously it was only required that it be a “local” hospital, the budget language changed it to a hospital within 30 miles of the facility.

2013 (2014-2015 Fiscal Years)

  • Established the Parenting and Pregnancy Program which is the framework for future years of funding anti-abortion fake health centers.
  • Required that ultrasounds be conducted before abortion procedures (even when not medically necessary) to look for fetal heart activity.
  • Required that biased counseling be given before accessing abortion care, including information about fetal heart activity detected and ambiguous information about what that means for the pregnancy.
  • Required that all ambulatory surgical facilities have a medically unnecessary transfer agreement with a local hospital
  • Banned public hospitals from being able to enter into a transfer agreement with an ambulatory surgical facility that performs abortions.
  • Defunded Planned Parenthood and other stand-alone family planning specialty clinics by re-prioritizing how the funding is distributed by the Ohio Department of Health, putting these facilities last in line for funding.
  • Banned rape crisis centers from getting state funding if they counsel rape survivors about abortion options.

2011 (2012-2013 Fiscal Years)

  • Prohibited any political subdivision to pay to costs of a health care policy if that policy provides coverage, benefits, or services related to nontherapeutic abortion.
  • Banned public hospitals from providing abortion care.

Whew… so there you have it, all of the ways that the Ohio Republican supermajority has used the budget to not help the people of Ohio (which is what should happen in a state budget) but to attack our access to abortion care —15 provisions in all. Nearly all of these were added at the last minute with little to no ability for testimony or public input.

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