COLUMBUS, Ohio — Pregnancy crisis centers are once again at the center of the women’s health care debate.

  • The bill would give a tax incentive to those who donate money out of their own pockets
  • Supporters say it protects women and children and rewards those who make charitable donations
  • Opponents say it’s making those who disagree foot the bill

“This is really important because right now in the state of Ohio we want to do everything we can to protect women and children throughout the state,” said Rep. Jena Powell (R-80).

This week, Republican Representatives Jena Powell of Darke County and Tim Ginter of Columbiana County are introducing a bill that would give a tax break to those who make charitable donations to non-profit pregnancy crisis centers.

“I am all about local community support, so when I see local community pregnancy centers, I want to see people giving out of their own pockets, and this is one way as a state government we can kind of push forth a little initiative for people to give out of their own pockets to do so,” said Powell.

The way it would work is if you donate $100 to a non-profit pregnancy crisis center, you would get $50 back though a fully refundable tax credit.

It is worth noting that a co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown), is a full-time director of a pregnancy resource center in Middletown.

Opponents of the bill say this is not only unethical, but it’s making those who don’t agree foot the bill.

“The important thing to know is that this is a tax credit—not a deduction,” said Gabriel Mann, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “So, if you gave money to a charitable organization, you might be able to write that off your taxes, and lower your tax responsibility a small amount. This is just a kick back, where if you hand $100 to a fake women’s health centers, the state of Ohio, the taxpayers would give you back 50% of your gift.  That’s wrong.”

Powell sees things differently.

“This bill specifically is saying, hey, as a community, give out of the generosity of your hearts, and the government is going to step in and say, hey, we see that this is coming out of the goodness of your hearts, here’s a deduction you can take on your taxes for giving that,” Powell said.

But is that deduction coming from other taxpayers?

Representative Tim Ginter says it’s not taxpayers who are footing the bill—

people who make these donations simply pay less.

He also contends this bill is a solution to a greater problem within the pro life/pro choice debate.

“I think one of the criticisms of the pro-choice supporters is that they find it hypocritical of us who are pro-life, I’ve heard it over and over again, that we seek to limit abortion access and yet we don’t provide resources or support for pregnant mothers,” said Ginter. “ And so this bill is a step toward increasing the capacity of those centers to help pregnant ladies, and surely the pro-choice groups would be in favor of giving women another choice”

Opponents say the exact opposite is true.

“When a person is pregnant and looking for information, they deserve medically accurate, scientifically correct factual information.  That’s not what these facilities are providing,” said Mann. “They’re ideologically driven, and they’re giving biased information out to people who think they are in a health facility, but really this is a storefront designed to shame people out of considering abortion options.”

The bill is likely to be stalled during congressional recess, but will be picked back up by committee later this fall.