COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio Governor John Kasich is set to sign a bill that would prevent state and some federal funds from going to organizations that perform abortions.
A group of ten people who oppose the bill staged a protest at the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus Thursday, hoping to convince Kasich to veto the bill.
“Women’s health care in Ohio is in crisis, essentially, and it’s really upsetting,” Chris Maxie, the only man at the protest, said.
Maxie and the other protesters said they were waiting to speak to Kasich or someone from his office about House Bill 294, which would require the state’s health department to “ensure that state funds and certain federal funds are not used either to perform or promote nontherapeutic abortions.”
“We’re hoping to get him to understand that we need Planned Parenthood,” Elizabeth Casto, another protester, said. “We need to get a veto on this bill.”
In South Carolina Wednesday, Kasich was interrupted by protesters asking about women’s health.
In response, he said, “We are not cutting off women’s health and we’re not going to fund Planned Parenthood cause they’ve put themselves in this pickle.”
In a statement to NBC4 Thursday, Joe Andrews, the Governor’s press secretary, wrote, “The Ohio Department of Health had already stopped awarding state dollars to Planned Parenthood and they were kicked to the back of the line for the federal government’s family planning grants that the department administers. This bill builds upon that work.”
He added, “The Ohio Department of Health has at least 150 other sub-grantees and contractors for the affected grants and projects addressing such issues as infant mortality, violence against women, and minority HIV/AIDS. ODH will reallocate funding from ineligible providers under the new law to other currently eligible providers, ranging from local health departments and community organizations to hospitals and universities. These organizations will be required to submit proposals in order to receive funding.”
But Casto said that doesn’t answer the question of where she and others can go for health services.
“I am one of these people, like many women my age,” Casto said. “Many people my age are people who need those services desperately.”
“You obviously can’t go get a Pap smear at a dentist’s office,” Colleen Courter, another protester, said.
NBC4 reached out to the two primary sponsors of the bill on Thursday, but both Representative Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) and Representative Margaret Conditt (R-Liberty Township) were in their home districts.
An aide for Rep. Conditt emailed a statement from Feb. 10 that quoted the representative as saying, “Amended Substitute House Bill 294 is about ensuring our tax dollars are used for programs that are helping women and children, especially infants, every day in their healthcare needs.”
The release also stated, “The legislation redirects funding to healthcare service entities that provide women and children with comprehensive health care and family planning services. As Representative Conditt explained in committee testimony, there is a substantial number of alternative healthcare providers, pregnancy help centers and free community health clinics that provide services to Ohioans all over the state, including in underserved and rural areas, that do not perform or promote non-therapeutic abortions.”
Governor Kasich’s office said no one was available to speak to NBC4 on camera. However, the office sent two young women down to speak with the protesters Thursday, although the women said they did not have specific information on the bill or answers to the protesters’ questions.
Andrews, Kasich’s press secretary, said the Governor had not yet received the bill from the Ohio legislature but that he would sign it when he received it.