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Court to reconsider Planned Parenthood ruling

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COLUMBUS — The full bench of a Cincinnati-based federal court on Thursday decided to reconsider a three-judge panel’s ruling in April that barred the state of Ohio from withholding health-care funding from Planned Parenthood clinics.

A majority on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals bench voted to grant the state’s request for rehearing. The full bench dissolved the injunction from the three-judge panel that blocked the state’s move and will hear arguments as a block at a later date.

The three-judge panel had upheld a lower federal court ruling invalidating the state’s plan to divert to other health-care providers public funds now going to clinics that perform or make referrals for abortions.

The monies are federal funds sent to the state for such things as HIV testing, contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings, sex education, and other health services not tied to abortion. State and federal law prohibit the use of public funds to pay for abortions.

The judicial panel had found that the state was withholding funds to penalize a constitutionally protected activity outside the actual services involved. The panel included two judges appointed by Republican presidents and one by a Democrat.

Attorney General Mike DeWine had urged the entire court to rehear the case.

“No judge can compel a state to give public money to a private corporation and today the court of appeals agreed,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “There are a significant number of real health clinics that need these limited resources, and Ohio passed a law to fund these entities where a vast majority of women visit. Simply put, Ohio's pro-life law is constitutional.”

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, called Mr. DeWine’s decision to appeal the panel’s ruling outrageous.

“The 6th Circuit was very clear in their original unanimous ruling,” she said. “Physicians must be able to provide health care and education to patients without unconstitutional restrictions on what they can say. Politicians don’t know better than doctors and shouldn’t be allowed to block them from doing their jobs."

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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