John Kasich has often been billed as a moderate in the GOP race for President. His views on a number of issues, including Common Core, immigration reform, and the Medicaid expansion authorized by the Affordable Care Act, place him squarely in what the media labels “the center right.” Left-wing blog Mother Jones, however, makes the case that, whatever Kasich’s view on other matters, he’s an “extremist” on the one issue that really matters to them—abortion:
“Kasich is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s going out there trying to sell himself as a moderate, he’s no moderate. He is an extremist,” says Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, an abortion rights advocacy group. “He is—if not the worst—among the worst of anti-choice governors in this country’s history.”
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: During Kasich’s time in office, the number of abortion providers in the state has dropped from 16 to eight.
These are strong words, and Governor Kasich is certainly no fan of abortion. When signing the 20-week bill in 2011, Kasich said the ban was a way to “express our ongoing gratitude” for God’s gift of life. But where does Kasich stand on defunding the abortion giant in his state? He has been pretty mum on abortion in general, and has said almost nothing on Planned Parenthood.
To find the answer, I took to Google, and, when that didn’t work, to OnTheIssues.org and, in a final act of desperation, Yahoo. All I turned up was a clip from a newspaper in 2012 and a statement from his spokesman Jim Lynch that was scrubbed from a Dispatch article last week. Both of them now exist only as webcaches and neither is a direct quote. The closest I found to a quote about Planned Parenthood is his response to an OnTheIssue’s survey, which asks if he supports funding abortions through entities “like Planned Parenthood.”
Finally, I called Kasich’s office to ask about upcoming legislation by State Representative Bill Patmon, a Democrat who gave a impassioned and moving speech on Planned Parenthood’s targeting of African American communities. Patmon’s office told The Pulse that an amendment he offered this week didn’t make it into the state budget but that the legislature has agreed to take up a stand-alone bill (HB294) based on it this fall. A representative from Kasich’s office told me “we can not comment on a bill that’s still pending, but any bill that has made it to the Governor’s desk that is a pro-life bill has been signed by the Governor.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Governor Kasich has a unique opportunity to back Patmon’s bill and deal a bipartisan blow to Planned Parenthood in his state. Will he take it?
Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.