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Court of Appeals Backs Ohio’s Planned Parenthood-Funding Cut

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

A federal court of appeals on Tuesday ruled that Ohio can cut off funding to Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions, breaking with a lower court that had blocked the state’s move.

In an 11–5 decision, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the Ohio state law prohibiting the allocation of state funds to organizations that perform or promote “non-therapeutic” abortions “does not violate the Constitution because the affiliates do not have a due process right to perform abortions.”

Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for the majority, argued that Planned Parenthood had failed to demonstrate that the law would place an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion — the standard established by the 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The law does “not violate a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. It does not condition a woman’s access to any of these public health programs on refusing to obtain an abortion,” Sutton wrote.

“It makes these programs available to every woman, whether she seeks an abortion or not,” he continued. “Nor, on this record, has there been any showing that the Ohio law will limit the number of clinics that offer abortions in the state.”

The legislation will prevent the Ohio Department of Health from passing funding, much of which comes from the federal government, to Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations, which will affect six state public-health programs but will not impact Medicaid.

Writing for the minority, Judge Helen White argued in her dissent that the legislation “would result in an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain non-therapeutic abortions if imposed directly.”

The ruling comes after a three-judge panel of the 6th circuit last year stayed a lower court’s ruling blocking the legislation, prompting then-attorney general Mike DeWine, who took office as governor this year, to call for a full-court hearing.

“We’ve always felt the states had the right to set policy on who is funded and who is not funded. I’m pleased with the decision,” DeWine told the Dayton Daily News following the decision.

The Supreme Court in December declined to take up a case brought by other Republican-led states seeking to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

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