State Representative Paul Zeltwanger (R-Mason) voted to concur on House Bill 294 during yesterday’s session. The bill now awaits consideration by Governor John Kasich.
HB 294 prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to perform or support non-therapeutic abortions, redirecting those resources to entities that provide healthcare services for women and to state programs focused on improving Ohio’s infant mortality rate.
The legislation redirects funding to healthcare service entities that provide women and children with comprehensive health care and family planning services. As was addressed during the committee process, there is a substantial number of alternative healthcare providers, pregnancy help centers and free community health clinics that provide services to Ohioans all over the state, including in underserved and rural areas, that do not perform or promote nontherapeutic abortions.
Authored by Reps. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) and Margy Conditt (R-Liberty Township), the legislation also stresses the importance of addressing the state’s high infant mortality rate. In 2013, Ohio’s infant mortality rate was 7.4, which is 23 percent higher than the national rate, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Infant mortality rate is calculated by the number of deaths of infants under one year old per 1,000 live births.
The Senate changes concurred upon today continued the fight against infant mortality and for the health care of women across the state. The two components of the Senate amendment for Sub. HB 294 are as follows:
• Sends an additional $250,000 to the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers to promote safe sleep practices for new moms and babies, birth spacing, and smoking cessation.
• Requires Medicaid to implement presumptive eligibility strategies in local health departments and WIC clinics to allow pregnant women earlier access to prenatal care.