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Washington, DC -- On April 20, Ohio will implement its law blocking access to health care and education provided by Planned Parenthood in Ohio. This law strips funding that helps Planned Parenthood provide Ohioans with 70,000 free STD and HIV tests, cancer screenings, domestic violence education through the Violence Against Women Act, and Planned Parenthood’s Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to reduce infant mortality.

The implementation of this disastrous law comes on the heels of Gov. DeWine signing a dangerous 6-week ban that would ban abortion before most women know they’re pregnant. And on May 3rd, the Trump-Pence Title X gag rule is scheduled to take effect, jeopardizing access to the nation’s only dedicated birth control and reproductive health program. These continued attacks on reproductive health care access would effectively leave Ohioans without the ability to control their own health and futures.

Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

 We in medicine and public health know the consequence of politicians interfering with medical practice -- it puts lives at risk. Today, maternal mortality is killing women -- disproportionately black women -- at a higher rate than it was 30 years ago. I have seen firsthand the work of Planned Parenthood health centers in improving public health outcomes for Ohioans, including their programs aimed at improving maternal and child health, cutting STI and HIV rates, and providing breast and cervical cancer screenings. This law will remove life-saving care to women, children, and families in Ohio. Anti-women’s health politicians are not only decimating access to the right to safe, legal abortion but also seeking to restrict women and families from accessing the essential health care we all need to live healthy lives. Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for our patients and the communities we serve.

Statement from Iris E. Harvey, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio:

Extreme lawmakers in Ohio continue to relentlessly attack reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio plays an important role in protecting, promoting, and maintaining the health of people in communities that are underserved by the state. Ohio already lags behind most states in critical health outcomes. Defunding Planned Parenthood is another example of how extremist Ohio legislators and Governor DeWine are intent on continuing a legacy that creates large health disparities and inequities in caring for Ohioans. We have a message for the patients that we serve - Planned Parenthood will not turn our backs on families and communities that need and deserve affordable, high quality health care and sex education.

Statement from Kersha Deibel, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Southwest Ohio Region:

By gutting preventive care programs and stripping people of access to sex education, birth control and STI testing and treatment, Ohio politicians are effectively creating an unnecessary health care crisis in this state. Let’s be clear – when politicians attack health care, they disproportionately impact people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and young people. We must work to ensure access to health care does not depend on who you are, where you live or how much money you make. Ohioans deserve better.

In 2017, Planned Parenthood supported over 80,000 patients in Ohio, administering over 170,000 sexually transmitted infection tests, over 18,000 HIV tests, and offering support and sex education in health centers and communities across Ohio. Education and outreach programs reached over 45,000 Ohioans.

Background:

In February 2016, Governor John Kasich signed a sweeping law that would bar Planned Parenthood health centers from providing care and educational services through several public programs – despite opposition from public health experts, Ohioans and onlineadvocates. Ohio politicians have passed at least 20 anti-women’s health measuresin recent years, and nearly half of all health centers that provided safe, legal abortion have shuttered since 2011.

This law will block funding for Planned Parenthood’s Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program – despite Ohio having one of the highest infant mortality rates for African Americans in the nation. It is the largest infant mortality prevention program in the state and serves hundreds of new or expectant mothers annually. Mahoning County Health Commissioner Pat Sweeney said: “They [Planned Parenthood] are very active and very effective. They specifically target women in the most at-risk population and work with those women to help with the significant issues of housing and food and employment, really significant issues, not just their health care.” Sweeney continued, “It’s going to be a really hard blow to the community.”

This law will also threaten access to over 70,000 free STD screenings that Planned Parenthood provides through the CDC STD Prevention program. It will also put at risk more than 5,000 free HIV and STD tests for individuals with higher risk factors for HIV, particularly within communities of African American women and men who have sex with men. Ohio has the 5th and 8th highest number of gonorrhea and chlamydia diagnoses in the country, respectively, and was ranked 12th nationwide in the number of HIV diagnoses. Jessica Sherman from the AIDS Resource Center testified against the bill saying: “We need to increase the number of cancer and STI screenings and people on birth control. If you want to improve health, then cutting this funding would be devastating and would be a giant step backward. When you cut funding, you say that women don’t deserve this reproductive health access.”

Groups facing discrimination, including LGBTQ people, people of color, people with disabilities, and women, are more likely to have low incomes -- and as a result are disproportionately more likely to rely on public programs. Now that this law is taking effect, it will disproportionately harm historically marginalized communities by creating more barriers to health care. This is taking away rights and opportunities from people who already face unequal and unfair treatment.

Planned Parenthood health centers serve an irreplaceable role in meeting the health care needs of those who rely on publicly funded health programs. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers across the U.S. are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. Approximately forty percent of patients served by Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio are low-income. Seventy-five percent of the patients served by Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio are low-income.

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About Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio: The mission of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio is to protect, promote, and provide empowered health care for generations of women, men, and families across Ohio. PPGOH serves approximately 65,000 patients annually throughout Ohio including metropolitan areas in Toledo, Akron, Canton, Youngstown, Mansfield, Cleveland, Columbus, and Athens. www.ppgoh.org. 

About Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region: Serving 20 counties in southwestern Ohio and three in northern Kentucky, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio strengthens the community by providing access to high quality health care and education that empower people to make informed private decisions about their reproductive lives and sexual health. With seven health centers throughout the region, it is Planned Parenthood’s goal to provide reproductive health care services to any individual who wants or needs them, to advocate public policies which guarantee each individual's access to services, to advocate individual’s right to privacy and their ability to make reproductive decisions free of coercion and to provide human sexuality education which enhances the health and well-being of individuals in the community. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. 

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources,Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.