Breaking: Court of Appeals Rules Constitutional, Ohio Can Defund Planned Parenthood

[Eric Heisig ] CLEVELAND, Ohio — A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday gave the OK to an Ohio law that sought to defund Planned Parenthood and keep the organization from receiving public money to pay for non-abortion-related health care programs for the poor.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 11-6 to reverse a federal judge in Cincinnati’s decision to declare the 2016 law unconstitutional and block it from going into effect. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote for the majority that the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio “do not have a due process right to perform abortions.”

The six circuit judges who dissented called the majority’s ruling “an assault on a constitutional right.”

(You can read the full opinion and the dissent here or at the bottom of this story.)

The ruling, which allows Ohio to enforce this law, is a blow to Planned Parenthood, which has 26 locations in Ohio. Locations in Bedford Heights, Columbus and Cincinnati provide abortions, while the others provide other women’s health services. The state is now free to enforce this law.

The Ohio law, passed by a Republican legislature and signed by then-Gov. John Kasich, forbids the state from contracting for health services with any entity that performs or promotes non-therapeutic abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood of the Southwest Ohio Region, which do not use public money for abortion services, sued after Kasich signed the law cutting off more than $1 million in public money from the organization.

The programs for which the nonprofits won contracts, help provide health services for the poor at little to no cost to patients. The services include testing for HIV/AIDS and other STDs, Pap smears and other cancer screenings, infant mortality prevention programs and sexual health education programs.

U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett blocked the law from being implemented in 2016 and declared it unconstitutional later that year. A three-judge panel from the appeals court upheld Barrett’s ruling.

The full 6th Circuit, in issuing its ruling, cited a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said a Pennsylvania law requiring women seeking abortions to hear details of the procedure and wait at least 24 hours was constitutional. That ruling also said a provider does not share the same right to perform an abortion as a woman does to receive it.

“Medical centers do not have a constitutional right to offer abortions,” wrote Sutton, an appointee of George W. Bush. “Yet, if we granted Planned Parenthood relief today, we would be effectively saying that they do.”

The majority shot down arguments made by Planned Parenthood that the law would deprive Ohio women of their constitutional right to have an abortion without an undue burden, saying the arguments were premature and that from what they’ve seen, “the law will not create an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.”

[Editor’s Note: This article was written  by Eric Heisig and originally published at Cleveland.com. Title changed by P&P.]


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