Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Court Issues TRO Against Ohio's Cutoff of Funding For Planned Parenthood

In Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges, (SD OH, May 23, 2016), an Ohio federal district court issued a two-week temporary restraining order barring the Ohio Department of Health and the Hamilton County Public Health Commission from enforcing Ohio Rev. Code § 3701.034.  That section requires the state department of health to ensure that funds it receives under six specific federal programs are not used to contract or affiliate with an entity that performs or promotes non-therapeutic abortions. The effect of the law is to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood to use for various women's health programs that do not involve abortion services in order to pressure Planned Parenthood to end performing or promoting abortions using other funding. The court concluded that it is likely plaintiffs will succeed in their claim that the statute imposes unconstitutional conditions on the receipt of federal funds:
Section 3701.034 allows ODH to leverage its control over government funds to prevent recipients of government funds from engaging in constitutionally protected speech and association, even if that speech is undertaken with private funds.
The court also found a likelihood of success on plaintiffs' claims that the law imposes an undue burden on a woman's right to have an abortion and denies equal protection.  Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on the decision.