Thursday, November 15, 2012

Collective Punishment, Ohio Republican Style Part 2

As I mentioned a few days ago, the goal by Republicans now is to collectively punish the members of the Obama coalition (minorities, LGBT, women, young voters) at the state level in order to turn them against the President and the Democrats.  Nowhere is this effort proceeding more quickly than in Ohio, where Republicans are trying to revive the nation's strictest anti-abortion "heartbeat" bill.  In addition to that, Ohio's GOP controlled state House Wednesday took the first step to defund all Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.

After a lengthy and heated hearing, an Ohio bill meant to defund Planned Parenthood cleared a House committee on Wednesday by an 11-9 vote along party lines. House Bill 298, ostensibly about re-prioritizing federal family planning money, seeks to strip $1.7 million from Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. According to Planned Parenthood Ohio CEO Stephanie Knight, nearly 100,000 Ohio women depend on the organization for health care — overwhelmingly for preventative care including cancer screenings and birth control.

Every single medical professional present testified against the bill. Dr. Grant Morrow of Nationwide Children’s Hospital decried HB 298 as the result of a “political agenda” that would have a devastating impact, primarily on poor and young women. Planned Parenthood is frequently a punching bag for many conservative politicians, despite the fact that abortions comprise only 3 percent of services provided by the women’s health organization. And as Dr. Kimberley Shepherd, a Columbus-based OB-GYN, testified during the hearing, defunding Planned Parenthood in Ohio would jeopardize cancer prevention screenings, STI care, hypertension testing, and many of the preventative measures the organization provides to low-income women.

Religious groups also sent multiple representatives to testify against HB 298. Former state representative Marian Harris of the National Council of Jewish Women argued that no one religious viewpoint should receive preferential treatment under the law, and pointed out that the legislation would gut funding for family planning clinics. Religious leaders also testified in support of Planned Parenthood, including a rabbi, a Lutheran minister, and a United Methodist minister. 

Given the massive GOP edge in the House (59-40) and the Ohio Senate (23-10) and GOP Gov. John Kasich, at this point if Ohio Republicans wanted to jam this through, it's going to happen.  We'll see what goes down.

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