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Washington, D.C. –– During last night’s MSNBC Town Hall, John Kasich decided to blame black women for infant mortality while not addressing his blocking of access to infant mortality and other family planning programs in Ohio – the real issue.  


Governor Kasich said: “the [minority] community itself is going to have to have a better partnership with all of us to begin to solve that problem with infant mortality in the minority community, because we’re making gains in the majority community.”


The remark, buried in the news cycle around Donald Trump’s condoning of criminalizing women seeking abortion, highlights John Kasich’s record of enacting legislation that is bad for communities of color. Donald Trump simply put to words what John Kasich and other out of touch, anti-abortion politicians have been putting into practice.


Quote from Alencia Johnson, Assistant Director, Constituency Communications, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

It is offensive to hear John Kasich tell black women what we should do with our bodies, though not at all surprising. John Kasich blames black women for infant mortality, while as Governor, he cuts programs that help black families in Ohio. Kasich has created a web of policies that foster unsafe environments for black families. It is Kasich who continues to ignore the needs of Ohioans. The black community recognizes the truth – the problem is John Kasich.”


Let’s not forget that Kasich last month signed a bill to cut funding to Planned Parenthood’s ‘Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies’ program, which focuses on reducing infant mortality — in a state with the third highest infant mortality rate for black families.  


Background: Ohio is an unsafe environment for black families


The State of Ohio has the third highest infant mortality rate for African Americans in the country and has been ranked the sixth worst state in the country to raise an African-American child. Additionally, Cleveland is considered one of the ten most segregated cities in the country.


Background: Kasich enacted legislation that is bad for communities of color


Just last month, Kasich signed legislation which slashed Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies – a Planned Parenthood program that specifically helps prevent infant mortality.  It is the largest mortality prevention program in the state, having served over 2,800 new or expectant mothers in the last year alone.


And Kasich was well aware of the repercussions. Before he signed the bill, many public officials spoke out against the cut. Mahoning County Health Commissioner Pat Sweeney said: “They [Planned Parenthood] are very active and very effective. They specifically target women in the most at-risk population and work with those women to help with the significant issues of housing and food and employment, really significant issues, not just their health care.” Sweeney continued, “It’s going to be a really hard blow to the community.”


Youngstown Health Commissioner Erin Bishop said, “Planned Parenthood is an integral part of that, because of this program that they do, so if those funds were to go away, just imagine.” Kasich did sign the bill, though – and the Black women of Ohio, who he blamed last night for infant mortality, are living with the consequences.


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