Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s aides helped write abortion restrictions responsible for the closure of clinics across the state that were previously attributed solely to Ohio’s GOP-majority legislature.
Although it was widely believed that the Ohio legislature was responsible for crafting anti-abortion restrictions included in the 2013 state budget, the Republican presidential candidate’s aides played a critical role in helping draft the legislation, the Associated Press reports. Emails obtained by the news outlet and verified as authentic by the governor’s office revealed that aides from Kasich’s office helped to write the language for the restrictions on abortion access 18 months prior to the budget being released to the public.
According to the Associated Press, “Kasich’s Cabinet secretary, Tracy Intihar, received and made changes to an early draft of legislation codifying Ohio’s rules for outpatient surgery centers, which include abortion clinics, from late 2011 to mid-2012, the emails show. Two other Kasich staffers, legislative liaison Ben Kaiser and attorney Diane Brey, also were involved, as was Ohio Right to Life.”
The anti-choice budget provisions were not part of Kasich’s own proposed 2013 budget, but were later added despite harsh criticism from reproductive health advocates and the media, who called for the governor to veto the budget. Yet Intihar, Kasich’s cabinet secretary, advised on the restrictions, helping to incorporate some of the “more stringent” aspects of the provision into the final draft, which was eventually signed by the governor.
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The anti-choice budget provisions included several measures meant to regulate and roll back access to the procedure, including stringent licensing regulations for clinics that have become commonplace proposals in states with Republican-held legislatures. Under the restrictions, all clinics in the state were required to have a written agreement with a local or private hospital to accept patients in case of an emergency—but public hospitals were specifically banned from participating in the agreement.
That left clinics to seek agreements with religiously affiliated hospitals, meaning clinics’ requests for a written transfer agreement often went unfulfilled.
Half the clinics in the state were forced to shut their doors under the GOP regulations. Prior to the budget’s passing, Ohio was home to 14 clinics, but after being forced to comply with the new mandates, eight closed or stopped offering abortions.
Kasich in 2015 again used the state budget to push through additional anti-choice regulations which opponents say are meant to close down even more clinics in the state.
“Just like the measures that they snuck in at the 11th hour two years ago, these measures are aimed at abusing the regulatory process to close abortion clinics without any medical justification,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “This is all about closing clinics. This has nothing to do with patient safety.”