By Jo Ingles
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) – The Ohio Senate on Thursday passed a $61.7 billion two-year budget which includes controversial amendments that would limit federal funds for Planned Parenthood and ban public hospitals from having patient transfer agreements with abortion clinics.
The state’s budget bill, which passed by a vote of 23-10, will go before the House next Wednesday.
The amendment changes the way the state allocates money it receives from the federal government, opting to fund some crisis pregnancy centers – which counsel against abortions – before funding Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest provider of abortions.
Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, has been pushing for the amendment as it seeks to have Planned Parenthood defunded.
“This proposal will wreak havoc on tens of thousands of patients that rely on these facilities, and could result in 11 counties losing access to subsidized family planning services entirely,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
Lawmakers in more than a dozen U.S. states have in the last few years taken steps to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, prompting several lawsuits.
In addition, the bill would prohibit doctors who have rights to practice at a public hospital from also working at an abortion clinic, and block transfer agreements between abortion clinics and public hospitals.
Clinics enter into transfer agreements in the event that more care is needed than the clinic can provide, and cannot operate unless the agreements are in place.
(Reporting by Jo Ingles; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Gunna Dickson)
[Two young women at a pro-Planned Parenthood rally in March 2012 via Flickr user Progress Ohio]