Washington, DC – In a win for Ohio women and a defeat for John Kasich’s anti-abortion agenda, a federal judge in Ohio issued a preliminary injunction to block restrictions that threatened to end access to surgical abortion in Cincinnati, and that would have made it the largest metropolitan area in the United States without access to surgical abortion.  Already, years of hostile policies have left women in Ohio with only 9 health centers that provide surgical abortion in the entire state — down from 14 health centers in 2013 (see map). This injunction means that Planned Parenthood’s health center in Cincinnati can continue to provide safe, legal abortions while the federal case proceeds.

This comes as the Ohio Legislature under Kasich’s leadership is pushing six new bills aimed at restricting access to abortion and blocking care at Planned Parenthood.

Statement from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“The preliminary injunction is a victory for women in Ohio, but the fight is not over as John Kasich’s dangerous attack on women’s health continues to threaten thousands of Ohioans.  Kasich is no moderate — his positions are extreme when it comes to providing men and women reproductive health care.  During his time as governor, John Kasich has done everything within his power to ban abortion and restrict access to birth control, STI screenings, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other reproductive health services. Ohio paints a grim picture of what the situation could be for women across the country if Kasich or one of his extreme rivals is elected.”

In fact, when Governor Kasich was asked if he would close down half the country’s abortion clinics like he did in Ohio if he were to become president, he responded, “We’ll do our best.” [YouTube, 8/19/15].

Despite investigations uncovering no wrongdoing, Kasich continues a push to defund Planned Parenthood and has signed 16 anti-women’s health measures that have significantly decreased the number of health centers that provide abortions — making it very difficult for Ohio women to access safe and legal abortion.  Some of these measures include a 20-week abortion ban, budgets that slash Planned Parenthood, and even a provision that blocks grant money to state-funded rape crisis centers that refer women to get abortion services.  These restrictive measures are so extreme that many women have been forced tocross the border into Michigan to get care.

BACKGROUND:  Kasich has made accessing safe and legal abortion virtually impossible for many women in Ohio

Governor John Kasich tries to moderate on his record on women’s health. But the facts show otherwise: Kasich has signed 16 anti-women’s health measures into law during his time as governor.

FACT: Governor Kasich is no moderate, he is an extreme abortion opponent.

  • Mother Jones: “Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life….adds, ‘There is no candidate running for president who has done more for the pro-life movement than John Kasich.’"

  • Washington Post: “In Akron, there was no other Title X provider. The largest health provider didn’t take Medicaid. The only federal health center had a three- to six-week wait for appointments.”

  • The Columbus Dispatch: “In 2011, Kasich signed into law a bill that banned late-term abortions. The law prohibits abortions after 20 weeks unless a doctor determines the fetus could not live outside the womb. He also has signed a measure requiring an ultrasound of anyone seeking an abortion. The Ohio Department of Health reports that the vast majority of the 23,216 abortions performed in Ohio in 2013 took place less than nine weeks into pregnancy. The state has said 173 abortions after 21 weeks were recorded in 2013….Gonidakis said he does not doubt that Kasich is with his group on the abortion issue, and he said that under Kasich as governor, the state has seen ‘historic lows in the number of abortions. Whether John Kasich makes it to the finish line in this race,” he said, ‘his body of work in Ohio on the pro-life movement speaks for itself.’”

FACT: Women’s access to health care shrunk under Gov. Kasich

  • Mother Jones: “Since Kasich entered office in 2011, he has enacted 16 anti-abortion measures. Some directly restrict abortion access, such as the 20-week late-term ban that he signed six months after entering office. Others limit the work of abortion providers. For example, in 2013 he signed the state's budget bill, which included one provision that prohibits state-funded rape crisis counselors from referring women to abortion services and another that stripped Planned Parenthood of an estimated $1.4 million in federal family-planning dollars. The measures have had drastic consequences for access to abortion and medical care for Ohio women:

FACT: Under Gov. Kasich’s administration, abortion clinics across the state have closed.

  • Toledo Blade: “But the law had the effect of shutting down nearly half of Ohio’s abortion clinics, which is exactly what lawmakers intended it to do. Many abortion providers can’t get transfer agreements because hospitals face intense pressure from anti-abortion activists to deny them.”

  • Think Progress:In terms of the areas where high number of clinics have recently been shuttered, Ohio ranks second only to Texas. And Ohio isn’t stopping there. Aside from the proposed budget, lawmakers have also been advancing a 20-week abortion ban; the state senate approved that legislation just last week. For years, reproductive rights groups have been warning that Ohio is becoming one of the worst states for abortion access. At the end of last week, the Plain Dealer’s editorial board also sounded the alarm: “These draconian rules aimed at closing Ohio’s abortion clinics appear to be a thinly veiled effort to get before the U.S. Supreme Court a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion,” the newspaper wrote in reference to the proposed budget bill”.

FACT: Ohio women are driving to Michigan to access abortion.

  • Toledo Blade: “Michigan abortion clinics see an influx of Ohioans...Ms. Chilean said she began to notice women coming from Ohio to the Michigan clinics about two years ago when Ohio law changed and banned abortions after 22 weeks.”

  • CBS News: “Both sides agree that one factor in Michigan's upsurge in abortions is an influx of women coming from Ohio, where several abortion clinics recently closed. According to Michigan's health department, abortions for nonresidents jumped from 708 in 2013 to 1,318 in 2014.”

FACT:  When 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 why he signed the provision into law. He said, “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]

FACT: 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]

FACT: 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]