The following post is by Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.
While the Republican presidential field has candidates who unabashedly support the sanctity of human life, from my vantage point in Ohio, one candidate stands out—a candidate who has signed 17 pro-life laws in the last five years and under whose leadership abortion rates have plummeted.
I’m talking about none other than Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Since Governor Kasich took office in 2011, Ohio has undergone a transformation when it comes to the issue of life. That’s no overstatement. When John Kasich took office, abortions in Ohio were permitted up until birth. Consider that: in the 21st century, in a Midwestern state with Midwestern values, abortions were permitted all throughout pregnancy.
While that might sound like paradise to Hillary Clinton, pro-life Ohioans wanted change and Governor Kasich was ready to lead it. In 2011 he signed Ohio Right to Life’s Late-Term Abortion Ban, legislation which prohibits abortions at the point of viability or 24 weeks gestation. Since that historic moment, Governor Kasich has continued to nurture a culture of life, signing legislation that fixed Ohio's once-broken infant adoption system, grants funding to life-affirming pregnancy help centers, and defunds Planned Parenthood. Just recently, Gov. Kasich signed another bill stripping $1.3 million from Planned Parenthood.
Laws signed by Governor Kasich in the last five years set in place new requirements for abortion facilities to ensure they provide sufficient back-up agreements with local hospitals in the case of an emergency. Under the Kasich Administration, the Ohio Department of Health has dutifully inspected Ohio’s abortion facilities, making sure that they are complying with the law and upholding the health and safety of women. When they’ve failed to do so, John Kasich took action and shut them down.
None of this would be possible if it weren’t for Governor Kasich’s inherent ability to take on problems and motivate his team to find solutions. Since overcoming the biggest budget shortfall in Ohio history, John Kasich has increased Ohio’s rainy-day fund from just 89 cents when he came into office to $2 billion today – and he did it while cutting taxes by $5 billion. Today, thanks to Kasich’s leadership, Ohio is more than 400,000 jobs stronger. This unprecedented economic success has allowed Ohio to embrace other challenges many states are unable to take upon themselves, and provided need funding to important efforts that improve and protect health.
Governor Kasich has paid particular attention to the needs of women’s health and safety. His second budget provided the first-ever dedicated state funding for rape crisis counseling. Additionally, he expanded health coverage for hundreds of thousands of women. All of these efforts matter if we are committed to cultivating and sustaining a society that values human life from conception to natural death.
So what’s been the impact of John Kasich’s efforts? Since 2010, abortions have decreased 25 percent – an incredible improvement. The numbers now stand at their lowest level since 1976 when record keeping first began. It’s no wonder Planned Parenthood has attacked him—even running attack ads against him.
But Governor Kasich isn’t backing down. In response to the smear campaign, Governor Kasich said, “Planned Parenthood can't and won't intimidate me. I'm proudly pro-life.”
This is the kind of fearless pro-life leadership that Ohio has been blessed with for the last five years. If America is lucky, it’s the kind of pro-life leadership our country will be blessed with for at least the next four years.