March 12 (UPI) — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to allow Ohio to cut state funding to Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 11-6 to end $1.5 million in annual state funding for Planned Parenthood, overturning a lower court ruling that a law allowing the state to defund the network of clinics was unconstitutional.
In the majority opinion, Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote that the Ohio law does “not violate a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. It does not condition a woman’s access to any of these public health programs on refusing to obtain an abortion.”
“It makes these programs available to every woman, whether she seeks an abortion or not,” he wrote. “Nor, on this record, has there been any showing that the Ohio law will limit the number of clinics that offer abortions in the state.”
Sutton added that the state “has no obligation to pay for a woman’s abortion” and that the law doesn’t impose “undue burden” on a woman’s access to an abortion.
“Its vow to keep performing abortions sinks any pre-enforcement action, and any speculation about what would happen if it changed its mind is just that,” he wrote.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, responded to Tuesday’s ruling on Twitter, stating it “rewards a political stunt by state lawmakers that has real consequences for Ohio women and families.”
“By blocking funding for women to access potentially lifesaving healthcare — including breast and cervical cancer screenings and infant mortality prevention programs — Ohio lawmakers are putting politics over the health and safety of their constituents,” he wrote.
The law has been on hold since May 2016 following a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett which found the law unconstitutional.
In April of last year, a three-judge panel in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that blocked the state from enforcing the law and added that while the state may prefer “childbirth to abortion,” no funding given to Planned Parenthood is dedicated to performing or advocating abortions.
Planned Parenthood of Ohio vs. Ohio Department of Health (PDF)
Planned Parenthood of Ohio vs. Ohio Department of Health (Text)