TO: Interested Parties
DATE: Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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Ohio Governor John Kasich today threw his hat in the ring to join an already crowded field of GOP presidential candidates competing in a race to the bottom on women’s health.

Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Under John Kasich’s watch, Ohio politicians have single-handedly dismantled access to safe, legal abortion across the state, forcing health centers across the state to close.

“There’s a reason Kasich has tried to keep his extreme views on women’s health under the radar — he knows that they’re deeply unpopular with the American public. Don’t be fooled by pundits who call John Kasich moderate. He’s enacted extreme measures in Ohio, and would do the same across the nation if given the chance.”

BACKGROUND: Under Gov. Kasich’s administration, nearly half of Ohio’s abortion clinics have closed in recent years, according to the Toledo Blade. And the situation could get even worse for Ohio women, with only nine providers left in the state. Not only that, but John Kasich has worked to attack access to Planned Parenthood and the preventive care that health centers provide, including birth control and cancer screenings.

Abortion is one of the safest procedures performed in the U.S. Data, including from the CDC, has shown abortion has a 99 percent safety record. Restrictions passed at state level don't support women's health and in fact hurt women by reducing access to safe abortion, as well as the means to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Ohio under John Kasich:

  • John Kasich opposes abortion and has signed at least eleven anti-women’s health provisions into law as governor of Ohio, including a provision banning publicly funded hospitals and clinics from performing abortions, and a measure requiring the Ohio Department of Health to annually apply for federal funds for abstinence-only programs.
  • The 2013 state budget that Governor Kasich signed into law had sweeping implications for women’s health in the state and had no place being in a budget bill in the first place:
    • The budget defunded Planned Parenthood. A provision in the two-year state budget effectively blocked Planned Parenthood from receiving state funding to provide affordable family planning and preventive care to women, men, and young people. He also increased funding to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” which provide misleading or medically inaccurate information to women seeking counseling about their pregnancy options.
    • The budget prohibits rape crisis counselors from giving survivors information about safe, legal abortion.
    • The budget required a mandatory ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat. This state-mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasound is now required, even if women don’t want one, and if their doctor doesn’t recommend one. The doctor’s failure to do so would be a first-degree misdemeanor, carrying up to six months in jail, for the first violation and a fourth-degree felony, carrying up to 18 months in jail, for subsequent violations.
    • The budget included a provision prohibiting public hospitals or the physicians affiliated with them from arranging transfer agreements with centers that perform abortions to accept their patients in case of emergency. This means that if a woman develops some sort of medical issue during the procedure, she can no longer be transferred to a public hospital for additional care, but must find a private hospital for help.
    • The budget also redefines a fetusdefining it as “developing from the moment of conception.”
  • John Kasich used his political power to appoint the president of Ohio Right to Life, a group dedicated to banning safe, legal abortion, as a member of the State Medical Board, a body tasked with protecting and enhancing the “health and welfare of Ohio’s citizens.” Michael Gonidakis is currently the president of the Ohio Right to Life organization, and previously served as the campaign manager for two pro-life judges.
  • John Kasich wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Kasich has said: “I don’t support Obamacare. I want to repeal it.” According to a study recently published in Health Affairs, the Affordable Care Act has saved women $1.4 billion a year on birth control pills alone — showing the clear economic impact that access to no-copay birth control has had on women’s lives. The study found that the mean out-of-pocket expense for the pill declined by 38 percent between June 2012 and June 2013 and declined 68 percent for IUDs in the same time period.

These laws are unpopular:

  • For more than 40 years, ever since Roe, more than two-thirds of the public has supported that decision and said abortion should remain safe and legal.
  • Public Policy Polling found that the majority of Ohio voters didn’t support the provisions in the 2013 state budget that were intended to limit women’s reproductive rights. According to the poll, 52 percent of respondents didn’t support the budget specifically because it sought to defund Planned Parenthood. And 52 percent also oppose the budget provision that would impose harsh requirements on abortion providers, ultimately forcing some clinics to shut down.
  • Two months ago, two Gallup polls found increases in support for abortion access and increases in people who say abortion is morally acceptable. The percentage of the public that thinks abortion is morally acceptable is higher than it’s been in 14 years.
  • VOX/PerryUndem poll in March found that 70 percent of respondents said women should be able to access abortion without added burdens and shouldn't have to drive more than 60 miles to get an abortion.
  • Sixty-eight percent of Millennials don't want to see Roe overturned and 72 percent of Republicans think abortion should be available.

In his own words:

  • After Governor Kasich signed four pieces of anti-abortion legislation into law in 2011, the president of Ohio Right to Life said: “Never in the history of the pro-life movement have we had so many legislative measures enacted in one year.” [Springfield News-Sun, 1/4/12]
  • When Governor Kasich was asked about a provision in the 2013 budget bill he signed that prohibits rape crisis counselors from telling victims that abortion is an option, he wouldn’t answer a question about why he signed the provision into law: “We certainly want to care. I actually believe in the exception of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Okay? But look, at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I think is a pro-life — you know, looking, being in a position of being pro-life. There’s nothing more I can say about it. I’ve said everything there is to say about it.” [Wonkette, 10/29/14]
  • Governor Kasich has said: “I’ve been pro-life all my career, so there’s — that’s just the way it is.” [USA Today, 6/26/13]

Background on targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP) in Ohio:

For several years, Ohio has required that abortion providers maintain a written transfer agreement with a local public hospital. In 2013, politicians in Ohio passed a new "catch-22" law forbidding public hospitals from entering into such an agreement with an abortion provider, even though they can enter into such agreements with any other facility.

In Planned Parenthood's case: For more than a decade Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region (PPSWO) maintained a written transfer agreement with a local public hospital.  Because this 2013 law prohibited such a relationship, PPSWO applied in September 2013 to the Ohio Department of Health for a waiver (also called a "variance") of the written transfer agreement, showing that it maintains agreements with local physicians who can provide care at a nearby hospital in the extremely rare case of an emergency. The department sat on Planned Parenthood's application for a variance for 14 months and finally ruled after we filed a lawsuit. The measure in the new budget would require the department to rule on such applications within 60 days, or the application is automatically denied and the clinic’s license is automatically suspended.

On top of that, the new budget would also require that "transfer agreements" are with hospitals that are within 30 miles. Presently, these agreements only need to be "local." For instance, a Toledo provider entered into such an agreement with a hospital that is 50 miles away; that agreement is being litigated in state court.  Read more from the Columbus Dispatch.

About Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

Planned Parenthood affiliates provide health care to 2.7 million patients every year — including lifesaving cancer screenings, preventive health care, birth control, and abortion services. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading women’s health provider and advocate. Planned Parenthood Action Fund works to ensure that people continue to have access to those health care and education services — by advocating for laws and policies that protect women’s health, and educating voters about how candidates’ positions would affect women’s health.

If you have any questions, please contact the Planned Parenthood Action Fund media line at media.office@ppfa.org.