Republican presidential candidate John Kasich once again touted his record on reproductive health while speaking at a town hall event Monday, despite having made access to that care more difficult during his tenure as Ohio governor.
During an event at the Solvay-Geddes Community Youth Center in Solvay, New York, a woman in the audience asked Kasich why he had signed laws to defund Planned Parenthood in February when many rely on the provider for care.
“It’s a concern to a woman like myself who, when I was younger, I utilized Planned Parenthood for [gynecological] exams, for birth control pills, for a lot of things that as a young woman without insurance, it was an avenue for me to get female health care,” said the woman. “And it had absolutely nothing to do with abortion, you know, but they offer very good services to women who don’t have means to be able to … spend $30 a month on pills … So it is of concern to me when you talk about defunding programs like that.”
Kasich affirmed that he had acted to strip the organization of its funding, but justified the move by claiming money for women’s health was diverted to other care providers. “The money’s not going away. It’s just going to a another place. We’re not reducing one dime of funding for women’s health, because we think it’s critical,” said Kasich. “We’re not going to defund it. We’re just going to move the money someplace else,” he continued before touting his role in expanding Medicaid in the state.
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Though Kasich suggested that reproductive health funding in Ohio wouldn’t be affected by defunding Planned Parenthood because the funds would be diverted elsewhere, critics in Ohio and across the country say the community clinics and others receiving such money may not have capacity to take on the organization’s patients when the law goes into effect in May.
“If Planned Parenthood goes away as a provider, there will be a void of services in our community,” Kelli Arthur Hykes, the health policy director for the Columbus, Ohio health department, said in a statement when the measure was signed. “We don’t have the capacity to fill that void.”
The Republican presidential candidate made a nearly identical claim in March during a campaign stop in Wisconsin, where he suggested it was “absolutely unacceptable” for women to be unable to access reproductive health care. But as Rewire explained in fact-checking his claim, Kasich has used his “tenure as governor to relentlessly attack women’s health on multiple fronts”:
When Kasich signed a bill in February cutting $1.3 million in funding to Planned Parenthood, he did not cut funds for abortion care; those services are not covered by state money. Instead, he slashed funds for the organization’s sexually transmitted infection testing, mother and newborn care, and anti-domestic violence programs. As Rewire reported at the time, the cuts also targeted Planned Parenthood’s infant mortality program ….
In November, an Associated Press investigation discovered Kasich’s aides had played a critical role in drafting restrictive anti-abortion language, previously attributed solely to the state legislature, in Ohio’s 2013 budget requiring licensing regulations for clinics. This led to the closure of half of the state’s outpatient abortion clinics. The bill also contained provisions mandating ultrasounds for abortions, blocking funding for rape crisis centers that provide information about abortion, and “re-prioritiz[ing]” family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood to crisis pregnancy centers, which routinely lie to patients.
Since taking office in 2011, Kasich has signed at least 16 anti-choice measures, including a later abortion ban. He also endangered women’s health by appointing Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis to the state medical board in 2012.