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Ohio Legislators Consider Tax Credits for Donors to Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

Women’s Life Care Center in Little Canada, Minn., is seen in this undated photo. The pro-life pregnancy center offers a full range of services for women in unplanned pregnancies. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

WASHINGTON — One week after voters in Ohio approved a constitutional amendment ensuring access to abortion, some members of the state legislature are considering a bill that would provide tax credits for those who donate to crisis pregnancy centers in the state.

The state’s senate finance committee discussed the bill Nov. 7 that was introduced by Republican state Senator Sandra O’Brien and would allow donations to “qualifying pregnancy resource centers” eligible for tax credits.

The centers, called pro-life pregnancy centers or anti-abortion counseling centers, are often faith-based and offer free resources, including ultrasounds, to pregnant women. They have been criticized by opponents for being unregulated and not always staffed by medical professionals.

Under the bill, no more than $10 million in nonrefundable tax credits can be approved in each calendar year and an individual or a company can only donate up to $5 million to one center a year. 

O’Brien told state lawmakers that the work of these centers “day in and day out shows their commitment to serving women and families around them and serving the lives of the unborn. A tax credit is the least we can do.”

She also said in her testimony that the state has been “a leader in defending the rights of the unborn and was one of the first states to pass the ‘heartbeat’ bill in 2019.” She stressed that as “the pro-life movement makes the case for life, it is more important than ever to take concrete steps to support women and families facing an unexpected pregnancy.”

The proposed bill says qualifying centers cannot perform or promote elective abortion procedures and they cannot contract with or be affiliated with other individuals or centers that provide abortions.

Republican state Senator Jerry Cirino gave his support to the bill during the hearing, saying, “We need more of these centers because women are in crisis.”

He said that in light of the recent abortion vote in the state, “we need to make sure that we are reaching out to women that are in these situations and figuring out how we can help them more.”

Catholic leaders in the state, who expressed disappointment with the vote on the abortion amendment, also emphasized the need to increase efforts to help pregnant women.

In a Nov. 7 statement, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr urged Catholics in the state to “redouble support for the many Catholic ministries that provide material resources and personal accompaniment to women, children, and families so that abortion ceases to be a consideration.”

And the Ohio Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, expressed similar determination. 

“The Catholic Church in Ohio will continue to work for policies that defend the most vulnerable, strengthen the child-parent relationship, and support women in need,” the bishops said in a Nov. 7 statement, adding that they would continue to pray for conversion of minds and hearts and would “recommit ourselves to defending children in the womb and supporting women in need.”

The bishops added that the “the Catholic Church and faithful will never grow weary in our mission to help women and families flourish through ministries such as Walking With Moms in Need and other local organizations that provide material and spiritual support and through advocacy with policymakers.”