According to Citybeat, the Republicans admit that their Title X allocation scheme was intended to prevent family planning funds from going to organizations like Planned Parenthood that also provide abortion services, even though the funds are only allowed to be used for healthcare and family planning services, not for abortions.
The recently-passed budget changes the allocation formula for federal family planning money. Rather than going to the most efficient provider, the subsidies for contraception, STD testing, and cancer screenings will be allocated away from standalone family planning health centers.
[Ohio House Republican spokesperson Michael] Dittoe says that Republicans still take issue with the abortion services, and it’s the sole reason Planned Parenthood is losing funding.
“Members of the House who have issues with Planned Parenthood have only issues with the abortion services,” he says. “The rest of what Planned Parenthood provides, I imagine they have no issue with whatsoever.”
That’s no surprise. It is, however, a damning admission for the prospects of making the law stick.
As Leonidas recently pointed out, this law is unconstitutional because it is designed to punish Planned Parenthood for its advocacy of abortion rights, thereby violating the group’s Free Speech, Association, and Due Process rights.
Kansas passed a nearly identical law in 2011, which was struck down by federal courts because it targeted abortion providers for defunding. In essence, states are not allowed to consider whether or not a Title X recipient is affiliated with an abortion provider.
The recent refusal by the Supreme Court1 to hear Indiana’s parallel-but-different law reinforces the idea that states can’t discriminate against abortion providers when they allocate federal money.
Dittoe’s statement makes it perfectly clear that the legislative intent was to punish abortion providers – which makes it clearly unconstitutional.
Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin has already announced they will file a suit over a similar law just passed in that state. We look forward to a similar announcement in Ohio.
1 SCOTUS also issued a major decision about USAID funding. Governments, it said, cannot require non-profits to disavow activities that have nothing to do with the grants provided. It’s not clear if this ruling means that governments also cannot exclude from consideration non-profits that promote activities that have nothing to do with the grant
That is, a state can’t require a grant recipient to publicly disavow abortion. That may or may not mean that a state also can’t punish a grant recipient who publicly supports abortion.
This is an interesting distinction that, in my opinion, won’t come into play because Dittoe has already admitted that the Title X allocation scheme is intended to defund Planned Parenthood.