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Nickie Antonio, pro-choice state legislator from Ohio
Ohio state Rep. Nickie Antonio
Republicans in the Ohio legislature are determined to gut funding for Planned Parenthood in this year's lame-duck session. A bill to carry this out has already cleared a House committee on a party-line vote:
The measure will reprioritize how state and federal family planning funds are administered, bumping Planned Parenthood providers to the bottom rung of eligibility. The bill states that priority for the funds should go to state, county, or local government entities. If "all eligible public entities have been fully funded," then some of the money can go to private groups, but those are also ranked to put Planned Parenthood providers dead last. This would replace the current competitive grant process.
It isn't the first time the legislature has tried this. First introduced in July 2011, the bill hadn't moved since a hearing in May. Democratic Rep. Nickie Antonio told Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones she had hoped "that cool heads would prevail, and people would maybe take a step back and think about what they're hearing from the people of Ohio. The people of Ohio are not clamoring for less availability of reproductive healthcare for women."

That makes no never mind to the forced-birther crowd, of course. And even though pro-choice Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won a tough, well-funded race against him and the majority of Ohioans voted for Barack Obama, both houses of the legislature emerged from the election still firmly in Republican hands.

At risk if the bill attacking Planned Parenthood is approved, as seems likely, are some $2 million, eight to nine percent of the organization's funding. Specifically, it could mean cutting off money for Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies, a program providing home visits to educate some 120 young mothers each year about caring for their newborns and toddlers, and the Personal Responsibility Education Program that provides sex education for young people in foster care and the juvenile justice system. Some $1 million in federal Title X family planning funds would also be put at risk. This could affect 32 Ohio clinics.

Like their party compatriots in other states, Ohio Republicans aren't just out to chop Planned Parenthood. They are determined to gut anything that would provide women information and assistance regarding sex, birth control and rape. "Prevention First," a sexual health and education bill, was granted a courtesy committee hearing recently by the ferociously anti-choice Republican Rep. Lynn Wachtmann and then promptly tucked away. The bill or one like it has been on the docket for several years but never manages to get a floor vote.

Introduced this time by Rep. Antonio, it would have provided comprehensive sex education, birth-control benefit parity in health insurance coverage and enacted the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act. Antonio said:

"This bill says that if we in Ohio are truly concerned about reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, which would of course lead to a lessening of the necessity of a woman needing to consider an abortion, then let's pass a prevention first bill. Certainly we all should be able to support that."
She, of course, knows better than most that "we all" does not include the anti-choicers among her fellow legislators. Time and again they prove their utter hypocrisy in the matter. They repeatedly prove that their real goal is not just to stop abortions, but to control women's sexuality, going so far as deny emergency contraception in cases of rape.

The stench from their behavior is brain-curdling. But they keep getting reelected.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:59 AM PST.

Also republished by Pro Choice and Daily Kos.

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