LIMA — Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis said Ohio residents do not need to worry about women losing funding due to a current push within the state to defund Planned Parenthood.
Gonidakis and Ohio Senate candidate Matt Huffman held a brief news conference Thursday to discuss the issue with local media in the law office of Huffman, Kelley, Brock & Gottschalk in Lima.
Gonidakis explained that the current proposal, defined in House Bill 294 and Senate Bill 214, would not actually remove Planned Parenthood from funding. Under the proposal, organizations such as local public health departments and health clinics would be moved to the top of the list in priority. Private primary-care centers would also move of the priority list with Planned Parenthood and other stand-alone family planning centers being last in line.
“They would not be removed from the list,” Gonidakis said. “Essentially, we are moving other people up the list because that is where the women are going for services more often.”
The new system would be similar to legislation recently enacted in the state of Texas. Gonidakis said he knew it was a contested issue, but with the help of leaders such as Huffman, then funding could go to where it needs to go.
“There are 300 places to go for lower-income women and their children,” Gonidakis said. “People like Matt Huffman have been on the front line combating this issue and helping us out.”
Gonidakis said other states are watching what Ohio is doing as Planned Parenthood funding has switched from federal lawmakers to the states. He said he felt Huffman would win the senate seat and rejoin the battle as a lawmaker. He said he expected the legislation to be passed in both houses and on Gov. John Kasich’s desk by Thanksgiving. Kasich has expressed that he intends to sign the legislation into law.
Huffman said he felt it was important to get the information out because funding will still be available and that it isn’t being cut out of the budget.
“The public should know that we can defund Planned Parenthood and there will still be health services for women,” Huffman said.
Gonidakis said funding would be put to much better use. For example, he said that $1 million was budgeted to Planned Parenthood in the last funding cycle to educate infant mortality to African-Americans. However, he explained that 40 percent of the 21,000 abortions in Ohio involved African-American women, though they were only eight percent of the population.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm