April 18 (UPI) -- A three-judge panel in a federal appeals court said Wednesday that Ohio's defunding of Planned Parenthood is unconstitutional.
It unanimously upheld a lower court decision that Republican Gov. John Kasich and GOP lawmakers, who are supportive of abortion restrictions, acted unconstitutionally to end $1.5 million in annual state funding for Planned Parenthood. The decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, bans the Ohio Department of Health from enforcing the law denying funding to the organization.
The law, enacted in 2016, has been on hold since May 2016 following a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett which found the law unconstitutional.
In Wednesday's 30-page decision, the judges wrote, "As the district court found, this case involves no state message related to or regarding abortion, affects programs that have nothing to do with abortion or family planning, and seeks to impose restrictions on recipients' speech outside the six government programs the statute funds."
It added that while the state may prefer "childbirth to abortion," no funding given to Planned Parenthood is dedicated to performing or advocating abortions.
Dan Tierney, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office, said the decision will be reviewed to determine if a full appeals court, or possible U.S. Supreme Court, appeal will be undertaken.