A federal judge is halting a Ohio law that would have defunded Planned Parenthood starting this year, a major decision that will be closely watched by other states with similar measures.
Judge Michael Barrett ruled Friday that Ohio’s health department could not defund Planned Parenthood because the group’s patients could face "irreparable injury," according to the 23-page opinion.
The decision permanently restrains the Ohio Department of Health from enforcing the law, which was originally slated to go into effect in May. The legislation was put on hold in the spring after a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood stood to lose about $1.3 million in grants from Ohio’s health department.
Without those funds, the group says it would be forced to increase the costs of its services — which would “deter patients from seeking these potentially life-saving services,” according to earlier filings.
Barrett’s decision Friday cites those arguments — as well as the discontinuation of Planned Parenthood’s teenage counseling program on healthy relationships — as reason that there is no “adequate remedy” available under law.
The 2016 law was signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich this spring during his GOP presidential bid, amid a politically charged national debate over Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood swiftly challenged the law in Ohio and a half-dozen other states, arguing that the GOP-controlled legislatures were unfairly targeting the group for political reasons.
Planned Parenthood was already banned from using the state funds for abortions, and instead, used the money for cancer screening, HIV testing and other services.
- Updated at 2:48 p.m.