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6th Cir Says Ohio Can Defund Planned Parenthood

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 12, 2019 3:20 PM

In another blow to Planned Parenthood, a federal appeals court ruled that Ohio lawfully cut off funds to the organization because it performs abortions.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said Ohio's law barring state funds for Planned Parenthood "does not violate the Constitution because the affiliates do not have a due process right to perform abortions." The state stripped about $1.5 million from the clinics.

The ruling in Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges was not unanimous, but it was enough to push back Planned Parenthood again. It lost another battle in the funding war.

Planned Parenthood

President Trump issued a rule that would cut tens of millions of government dollars from abortion providers, and many states have followed suit. Others have sued as the abortion-funding conflict has spread across the country.

In 2016, Ohio passed a law that prohibits state funding for organizations that perform "non-therapeutic abortions." Planned Parenthood challenged the law in federal court.

A trial judge blocked the defunding plan, but the Sixth Circuit reversed in a split decision. The 11-member majority upheld the state law, while six justices dissented.

Judge Helen White argued that the law "would result in an undue burden on a woman's right to obtain non-therapeutic abortions if imposed directly." Her dissent may not matter, however, unless the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the case.

Losing the Funding Battle

It's been a tough year for Planned Parenthood. In January, another federal appeals court slashed its Medicaid coverage.

In Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventative Health Services v. Smith, the Fifth Circuit reversed a trial judge who had enjoined state officials from cutting off funds in Texas. The appeals panel said the judge should reconsider whether the clinic practices disqualified Planned Parenthood for Medicaid.

Evidence included videos of graphic discussions about the sale of liver, thymus, and other neural tissue from second trimester abortions. Texas prohibits all of that.

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