Law & the Courts

Federal Court Blocks Ohio Law that Strips Planned Parenthood of Taxpayer Funds

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

A federal appeals court on Wednesday left in place a lower court’s injunction against an Ohio law that would reroute taxpayer money away from Planned Parenthood.

The GOP-backed law was designed to prevent more than $1.4 million in mostly federal funds from going to 28 Ohio Planned Parenthood clinics. After Governor John Kasich signed the law in 2016, the mammoth abortion provider sued the state, saying the law infringes on its constitutional rights and punishes it “in retaliation for” providing abortion services. A federal court agreed, blocking the bill’s implementation later that year. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Wednesday upheld the lower court’s decision, dealing pro-life advocates another setback.

Ohio argued that no one has a constitutional right to receive taxpayer money, and it should be up to the state what it does with its federal funds. The state reminded the court that it is already illegal to use federal funds for abortions and claimed that the decision to take away Planned Parenthood’s government subsidies was unrelated to its provision of abortions.

The court, however, was unconvinced, and ruled that Ohio cannot exclude groups simply because they perform or promote abortions. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office now has the opportunity to appeal again, and the case could possibly end up before the Supreme Court.

Several states have jumped on opportunities recently to pass strict abortion restrictions, hoping the ensuing lawsuits will reach the Supreme Court and give the landmark case legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade, a chance to be overturned. Mississippi last month passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the most stringent restriction in the country. Ohio itself is considering a long-shot bill that would ban abortion completely. Many on both sides of the abortion issue predict that if President Trump has the opportunity to appoint another conservative justice to the high court, it could spell doom for Roe.


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