COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State lawmakers moved forward Wednesday with a bill that would send Planned Parenthood to the back of the line for public family-planning money, even as crowds of chanting protesters lined the Statehouse halls to oppose the measure.
The Health and Aging Committee planned a vote later Wednesday on the bill, which would then go to the House floor. The Senate would take up the measure after Thanksgiving at the earliest.
Chairman Lynn Wachtmann, a Republican from Napoleon, said he expected the panel to support the measure.
Protesters in pink T-shirts chanted "Hear us now!" as they packed the hall outside the committee's meeting. Some were staffers of Planned Parenthood. Other protesters wore shirts reading "Women are Watching."
State Sen. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, said at a news conference on the bill that Republicans in the Statehouse were ignoring the message sent by women with last week's re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama.
"It is absolutely immoral and unconscionable what the GOP is doing," Turner said. "They have not learned their lesson. They are at it again, but it is our job to teach them."
She said Planned Parenthood provides needed preventive health care to low-income women that would be jeopardized by the bill.
Wachtmann said other quality providers of women's health care have sprung up around the state and the bill would give those centers a chance at government funds.