John Kasich has put the money where his political party's mouth is when it comes to Planned Parenthood, signing a bill Sunday that would effectively defund Ohio's branch of the health service nonprofit.
The move, which will likely win the praise of Planned Parenthood critics, specifically prohibits the state from funding health service organizations that "perform or promote" abortions.
The law will put a stop to more than $1.3 million in funding from Ohio's health department to the state's 28 Planned Parenthood clinics. The money, which will now be allocated to other health providers in the state, was used for the nonprofit's educational programs (like HIV counseling and promoting healthy babies), Planned Parenthood officials told the Columbus Dispatch. Only three of the state's Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortion services.
Defunding Planned Parenthood has long been a goal among some Republicans and became even more central last year after a series of undercover videos went viral and rallied conservatives against the organization. Kasich's latest move will put him among the ranks of strong anti-abortion voices on the national stage.
"Moderate" Kasich has a strong anti-abortion record
Despite Kasich trying to cast himself as the moderate conservative candidate, this anti-abortion legislation is typical of his gubernatorial leadership.
This law comes on the heels of an additional $1.4 million cut in federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood, which Kasich signed as part of Ohio's 2013 budget bill.
Touted as the "most pro-life budget in history" by Ohio's anti-abortion advocacy group Ohio Right to Life, the bill required abortion clinics to have transfer agreements only with private hospitals (prohibiting public hospitals from contracting with abortion clinics), perform external ultrasounds prior to abortions, and inform mothers of a heartbeat. The budget also redefined a fetus as "developing from the moment of conception."
"It took great compassion and courage for our governor and pro-life legislature to stand up to the abortion industry that blatantly pressured them," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, told the Columbus Dispatch in 2013.
As expected, this latest cut did not fare well with Planned Parenthood and its advocates, who emphasized the necessity of the organization's education programs. President Cecile Richards denounced Kasich's decision in a statement sent to CNN:
"This legislation will have devastating consequences for women across Ohio," Richards said in a statement. "John Kasich is proudly eliminating care for expectant mothers and newborns. He is leaving thousands without vital STD and HIV testing, slashing a program to fight domestic violence, and cutting access to essential, basic health care."
However, in a statement to CNN, Kasich's spokesperson Joe Andrews said the law reflects Kasich's support of women's health issues.
"The Ohio Department of Health has at least 150 other sub-grantees and contractors for the affected grants and projects addressing such issues as newborn babies, infant mortality, expectant mothers, violence against women, and minority HIV/AIDS," the statement said. "ODH will reallocate funding from ineligible providers under the new law to other currently eligible providers, ranging from local health departments and community organizations to hospitals and universities. These organizations will be required to submit proposals in order to receive funding."
As Kasich is running for president in a political party that has become increasingly conservative, this move will undoubtedly be used as another feather in the cap of his anti-abortion record.