John Kasich's Record On Repro Rights Is Ugly

During Tuesday night's Republican town hall, Donald Trump told Chris Matthews that abortion should be banned in the United States, and that women who pursue it should be subjected to "some form of punishment." Ohio Gov. John Kasich took the opportunity to make himself look good in comparison, telling MSNBC's Chuck Todd, "Of course women shouldn't be punished" for getting abortions. When this guy calls you out for being too conservative on abortion, then you've got a real problem, because Kasich's record on reproductive rights is among the most extreme.

Kasich told Todd that he believes abortion should be legal in cases involving rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. However, one of the most glaring marks on his record is a policy he instituted as governor of Ohio dictating that rape crisis counselors could not refer rape victims to abortion providers. Kasich was questioned about the "gag rule" by the editorial board of The Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2014 and flat-out refused to discuss it.

Several policies restricting access to abortion and even birth control were tucked away in a $65 billion state budget that Kasich signed into law in 2013. One policy requires women to have an ultrasound before receiving an abortion, during which they are provided with a verbal description of the fetus from the doctor. They also have to hear a heartbeat if one is detectable.

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The budget bill also defines pregnancy as beginning at fertilization, as opposed to the more accepted definition that it begins when a fertilized egg is implanted into the uterus. Since the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices (IUDs) could interfere with fertilization, they could be considered forms of abortion under this definition. The language could pave the way for restricting access to these forms of birth control.

Another insidious component of the budget bill directly led to the closing of four of Ohio's 16 clinics which provided abortions. The budget contained a "catch-22" for abortion providers, both requiring them to have transfer agreements with nearby hospitals and prohibiting public hospitals from entering into such agreements with physicians who provide abortions. Subtle, Kasich. Real subtle.

It's nice to know that Kasich doesn't believe in punishing women for getting abortions. But he has repeatedly made accessing abortion more difficult for the women of Ohio. We have no reason to believe the state of reproductive rights would be any better under a President Kasich than they would under a President Trump.