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DeWine directed money to crisis pregnancy centers days before Ohio's primary

 Gov. Mike DeWine signs the anti-abortion "heartbeat bill" into law in 2019. The law was later put on hold by a federal court.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Gov. Mike DeWine signs the anti-abortion "heartbeat bill" into law in 2019. The law was later put on hold by a federal court.

Advocates for legal abortion are accusing Gov. Mike DeWine of trying to gain political favor with Republican voters by issuing an executive order that gives money to anti-abortion clinics that often market themselves as crisis pregnancy centers.

As part of that order, issued Friday, DeWine gave $1.5 million in public funds to these clinics.

Crisis pregnancy centers are facilities, often faith-based, that offer counseling and support for pregnant people with the goal of preventing them from seeking an abortion.

But Pro-Choice Ohio’s Kellie Copeland said they operate as "fake abortion clinics" to lure pregnant women in with the purpose of confusing them and dissuading women from ending their pregnancies.

The money was given through the state's Parenting and Pregnancy Program. Copeland said it's a misuse of public funds for clinics that provide little to no value to women who are in need of factual information and a full range of services.

“These are fake clinics. They are unregulated. They are not bound by HIPPA privacy requirements and they trade in stigma and misinformation to dissuade people from obtaining abortions. And we know that these same facilities are gearing up to launch an intentionally confusing misinformation campaign once the Supreme Court makes its decision on an abortion case this June," Copeland said.

A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a report published Monday night in Politico. It's unclear if the draft represents the court's final word on the matter.

The conservative majority on the court could use a Mississippi case now under consideration to allow states to regulate abortion, just as they did in 1973. That decision is expected in June.

The money being given to the clinics in DeWine's executive order comes from federal dollars earmarked for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Copeland said the governor should not be allowed to allocate the money for this use.

"He should be ashamed of himself,” Copeland said.

These funds are in addition to $6 million that was already given to these centers in the state's most recent two-year budget. Copeland said these clinics also benefit from money generated by the "Choose Life" license plates.

In a written statement, DeWine’s office denounced the suggestion that this order was a way to curry political favor with voters before the election. A statement issued by the office said it announces every executive order via a press release as it did Friday.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.