Federal appeals court OKs Ohio law aimed at abortion funding


CINCINNATI (AP) — A divided federal appeals court Tuesday upheld an Ohio anti-abortion law that blocks
public money for Planned Parenthood.
The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower federal court ruling. The Ohio law targeted
funding that Planned Parenthood receives through the state’s health department. That money is mostly
from the federal government and supports education and prevention programs.
The law bars such funds from entities that perform or promote abortions.
Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote the opinion for an 11-6 majority, saying the judges rejected the contention by
two Planned Parenthood affiliates that the Ohio law imposes an unconstitutional condition on public
"The affiliates are correct that the Ohio law imposes a condition on the continued receipt of state
funds. But that condition does not violate the Constitution because the affiliates do not have a due
process right to perform abortions," Sutton wrote.
Sutton wrote for the majority that while Planned Parenthood contends that the Ohio law will
unconstitutionally deprive women of the right to access abortion services without undue burden, that
conclusion is premature and speculative because Planned Parenthood has stated it will continue to
provide abortion services.
Judge Helene White wrote the dissenting opinion, saying such laws allow targeting of abortion providers
who are "merely a proxy for the woman and her constitutional rights" and are trying to make
them "cry uncle." She said using the majority’s reasoning, "the government can do almost
anything it wants to penalize abortion providers so long as they resist the coercion and continue to
perform abortions."
Planned Parenthood leaders said Tuesday the funding has helped provide tests for sexually transmitted
diseases, cancer screenings, domestic violence education, and efforts to reduce infant mortality.
Dr. Leana Wen, the organization’s national president, said the ruling will "roll back the gains to
public health — harming women’s health, children’s health and the health of families across Ohio."
She in a statement called it "unconscionable" that politicians continue seeking to restrict
access to essential health care.
Planned Parenthood didn’t say immediately whether it will seek to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court
A U.S. district court ruling had agreed with Planned Parenthood that denying the organization funding if
it continued to perform abortions violated the organization’s right to due process, and that denying
funding for promoting abortion violated its free speech rights.
A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit appeals court agreed with the lower-court ruling for an injunction
against the 2016 law, prompting then-Attorney General Mike DeWine last year to seek a full-court
hearing. The Republican took office this year as governor, succeeding Republican John Kasich.
DeWine’s office said he was "pleased by today’s decision as he has long believed that the people of
Ohio, through its state legislature, have the right to decide what it funds and what it doesn’t
David Pepper, Ohio’s Democratic Party chairman, said the ruling hurts Ohio kids and families, but that
DeWine chose to side with "anti-abortion extremists."
Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, women have a constitutionally protected right to
terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb. Anti-abortion groups and
politicians around the country have continued efforts to undermine that ruling or get it reversed by a
Supreme Court with two new justices nominated by Republican President Donald Trump.
Planned Parenthood is a national target because of its role as the largest U.S. abortion provider.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed in Columbus.
Contact Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell

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