Expected Presidential Contender John Kasich Signs New Abortion Restrictions into Law; Could Make Bad Situation Worse for Ohio Women

WASHINGTON, DC — Against opposition from women’s health advocates, expected presidential candidate John Kasich today signed into law abortion restrictions as part of the unrelated Ohio state budget.

This is the latest in an avalanche of incremental, medically unnecessary restrictions that have left women in Ohio with few options when it comes to accessing safe and legal abortion. These new restrictions could force even more closures, according to the Columbus Dispatch, and have nothing to do with protecting women’s health or safety.

As Kasich appointee Mike Gonidakis, a member of the Ohio medical board and president of Ohio Right to Life, stated in regard to Ohio’s attempts to restrict access to safe, legal abortion: “We believe in the incremental approach: one step at a time, advancing legislation that will withstand court scrutiny.”

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

“Today John Kasich took another step toward his ultimate goal — chipping away at access to safe, legal abortion until it no longer exists in Ohio.

“These restrictions are not about making abortion safer, because abortion is already a safe procedure. In his two terms as governor, Kasich has signed at least eleven measures to restrict women’s access to health care into law. 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 theToledo 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 in the 2013 budget that prohibits rape crisis counselors from giving survivors information about safe, legal abortion and provisions that require women seeking abortion to undergo a government mandated ultrasound.

  • John Kasich wants to defund Planned Parenthood and in 2013 signed into law a sweeping two-year state budget that 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.

  • 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.

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.

  • Just last month, 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 think 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.

Background on targeted restrictions on safe, legal abortion (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 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 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 [email protected].