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DeWine asks for full appeals court review of Planned Parenthood case

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    Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

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COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants the entire U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to consider a ruling by a three-judge panel of that court blocking the state’s effort to divert public funds from clinics that perform or make referrals for abortions.

Mr. DeWine said in a statement Monday that his office asked for an “en banc” review in Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges.

“Nothing in the Constitution requires Ohio to use its funding discretion under these programs to support abortion providers, and we will appeal to the full Sixth Circuit,” Mr. DeWine said.

A federal district judge in 2016 blocked Ohio’s enforcement of the law that would have denied Planned Parenthood clinics the last $1.3 million in federal funds the state had been sending them for HIV testing, contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings, sex education, and other health services not tied to abortion.

A three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld that lower court ruling, noting it is already illegal under Ohio and federal law for public funds to be used to pay for abortions and that the withheld funds are for other health services provided by the clinics.

Nicole Evans, spokesman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, criticized the attorney general’s action as wasteful.

“This is yet another example of Attorney General Mike DeWine’s wasting Ohioans’ tax dollars,” she said, adding the appeals court has already ruled in the case “to continue to provide educational programs and access to reproductive health care for Ohio’s women, men, and young people.”

Three of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio’s 19 locations — in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Bedford Heights near Cleveland — perform abortions, though all locations, including in Toledo, were affected by the law because they refer patients for abortions to other providers.

Ms. Evans said Toledo’s loss would have been about 6 percent of the $1.3 million that would have been lost in competitive grants.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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