COLUMBUS, Ohio (ChurchMilitant.com) - The state of Ohio is stripping Planned Parenthood funding from its budget and is giving millions to pro-life crisis pregnancy centers instead.
The Ohio Senate passed a bill last week giving $5 million to pregnancy centers. This was part of a two-year, $69 billion state operating budget. Only $1 million was allocated in the version of the budget passed in the House.
This comes after a federal appeals court in March upheld an Ohio law ending state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Cleveland-area Democrat Sen. Sandra Williams pushed for removing the $5 million in funding for pro-life pregnancy centers. But her proposed amendment failed, and the budget passed unanimously in the Ohio Senate.
Commenting on the measure, Williams dismissed pregnancy centers as "organizations with anti-choice agendas who often offer inaccurate medical information."
Ohio's government is GOP-controlled, so the bill is expected to go into law. In order for that to happen, the Senate version of the bill needs to be reconciled with the House version, and Governor Mike DeWine will then have to sign it.
Senate President Larry Obhof, a Republican, said he believes the $5 million for pregnancy centers will remain in the final version approved by the governor.
"I feel pretty strongly that this will be in the final version of the bill," Obhof said in recent comments to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. "We have a strong pro-life majority in the House and, interestingly, in the Senate, while we had this funding in there, and while we had a substantial tax cut, we worked pretty closely with our friends on the other side of the aisle, and we passed the bill 33-0."
Earlier in his comments to Perkins, Obhof mentioned the March court ruling and noted, "This is the first budget opportunity we've had since then to invest additional funds into crisis pregnancy centers, and I'm proud of the work we've been able to do so far."
Stephanie Ranade Krider, vice president and executive director of Ohio Right to Life, said of the additional funding for pregnancy centers, "We are so pleased that the Ohio Senate included $5 million in funding for the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Support Program, and that efforts to remove this funding were tabled."
Krider continued, "This represents a significant investment in meeting the needs of low-income mothers and infants in need of prenatal counseling, care and material resources."
As LifeSiteNews notes, a 2015 survey of Ohio residents found that a strong majority of Ohioans want to see Planned Parenthood stripped of government funding.
Widespread calls to defund Planned Parenthood have been heard nationwide since 2015 when David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress released undercover footage apparently showing Planned Parenthood staffers negotiating the sales of aborted babies' body parts.
Pro-abortion activists in Ohio are dissatisfied with the expanded funding for pregnancy centers. Jaime Miracle of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio told Columbus radio station WOSU, "We should not be spending this $5 million that will do nothing but hurt the people that come to them for care."
In comments to WOSU, Obhof pushed back, saying of pro-abortion groups, "What they mean is, these are pro-life options and we'd prefer that you give the money to Planned Parenthood."
Church Militant contacted an Ohioan crisis pregnancy center in a phone call Friday, and was informed that the grants under the state's budget are more likely to go to larger pregnancy centers.
In April, Gov. DeWine signed off on a law prohibiting abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, when the unborn baby's heartbeat can be detected. The Ohio law only makes an exception for when the mother's life is at stake.
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Ohio heartbeat law in May.