Ohio Enters Abortion Spotlight
By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Editor
(CNN) — Ohio is joining Texas as one of the latest battlegrounds in the divisive fight over abortion.
Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, signed into law Sunday night the state’s budget, which includes some controversial abortion provisions.
Those measures will require ultrasounds for anyone seeking an abortion and limit abortion clinics from transferring patients to public hospitals. If they need more care after a procedure, patients will now have to seek out a private hospital. The budget will also make it more difficult for family planning groups in the Buckeye State to obtain funding for preventive care. And it puts Planned Parenthood behind clinics that don’t provide abortions, when it comes to obtaining state funding.
The provisions are part of an overall $62 billion budget, which includes a $2.7 billion tax cut and $1.5 billion for education. Kasich vetoed 22 line-items in the budget, but left the abortion provisions, which were passed Thursday by the Republican-controlled state legislature.
Kasich, who is up for re-election next year, did not take questions from reporters Sunday night after signing the budget.
No Democrats in the state legislature voted for the measures, and the party was quick to spotlight the governor’s move.
“This is why Mitt Romney lost in 2012” was the headline from an email from Elisabeth Smith, a senior adviser and spokeswoman for the Democratic Governors Association.
“Governor John Kasich, surrounded by a smiling group of Republican male legislators, just signed a bill in Ohio that will defund Planned Parenthood and force women seeking abortions to get medically unnecessary ultrasounds. These positions are controversial, unpopular, and well out of the mainstream in any state, let alone Ohio,” Smith said in her email to reporters.
Ohio is a crucial battleground state in presidential politics. It was the state that put President George W. Bush over the top in his 2004 re-election, but was won by President Barack Obama in his 2008 and 2012 election victories.
Ohio Right to Life termed the passage of the abortion measures as “historic.”
“Ohio Right to Life applauds Governor Kasich and the vast pro-life majorities in the House and Senate,” said Mike Gonidakis, the group’s president. “It took great compassion and courage for our Governor and pro-life legislature to stand up to the abortion industry that blatantly pressured them.”
Kasich signed the abortion measures one day before the Texas state legislature was set to meet in a special session called by Gov. Rick Perry. The agenda for the special session includes a controversial measure that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill was sidelined last week following a filibuster by a Democratic state senator that captured national attention.