Ohio Senate Draft Budget Includes $5 Million For “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

Birthright is among the pregnancy resource centers operating in Ohio.
Birthright is among the pregnancy resource centers operating in Ohio. [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]
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Among the changes the Senate seeks to the House version of the budget is a $5 million boost to a program that would fund pro-life centers that counsel pregnant women.

The $5 million is five times the funding that usualy goes to the Parenting and Pregnancy Program, which supports so-called pregnancy resource centers.

President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said it will have no trouble passing the Republican-dominated Senate.

"I think that the large majority of our members would support what we’ve done here and frankly, would support additional funding on top of what’s in the bill now,” Obhof said.

But these non-profit facilities, sometimes called crisis pregnancy centers, often lie to women about the health risks of abortion, said Jamie Miracle of NARAL Pro Choice Ohio. Such centers often connect the procedure to an increased chance of breast cancer when counseling women, Miracle said, which has been proven to be untrue.

“We should not be spending this $5 million that will do nothing but hurt the people that come to them for care,” Miracle said.

Obhof said he’s unaware of that, and that just because abortion rights groups are saying something, that doesn’t mean it’s true.

The American Cancer Society reports there have been studies some with mixed results, but the largest and most reliable one showed abortion does not affect a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer.

Supporters of pregnancy resource centers say they employ medical professionals and provide emotional, medical and educational support for pregnant women — and sometimes material assistance. But opponents say many of these clinics are run entirely by volunteers and offer no more medical expertise beyong free ultrasounds and STD tests.

The state is no longer funding health services at Planned Parenthood, and Obhof said that’s really what this is about. 

“What they mean is, these are pro-life options and we’d prefer that you give the money to Planned Parenthood," he said. "The legislature has chosen over time to make a decision that we would not prioritize organizations that perform non-therapeutic abortions. They took us to court. They lost."

Miracle countered that the fuding in the Senate's budget proposal would come from federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families or TANF funds, which could be better used for low-income housing.

“Housing stability has been proven to decrease infant mortality, and the state instead decided to give $5 million to these fake women’s health centers that provide incomplete care at best and lies and manipulation at worst,” Miracle said.

Ohio's past two budgets have each included $1 million for pregnancy resource centers. In addition to those obligated funds, the clinics can access revenues from the $20 fee for each “choose life” license plate. Offered by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles since 2005, the pro-life plates have raised $585,000 in total, according to the Florida-based pro-life group that supports the plates in 33 states.

Copyright 2019 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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