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Government and Politics

Ohio's abortion opponents celebrate one of the strictest laws in the country
Ohio's budget requires fetal heartbeat tests and bans public hopsitals from agreements with abortion clinics; pro-choice groups say the fight is not over

Jo Ingles
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a budget bill that includes some of the strictest anti-abortion language in the country.
Courtesy of KAREN KASLER
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Ohio’s budget was a big victory for Ohio Right to Life as five bills it supported were attached to the state’s new two-year spending plan. But NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says the fight is not over.


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Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis is pretty pleased now that Republican Gov. John Kasich has signed a budget that includes five anti-abortion amendments.

"We are going to see these through implementation now for these five measures that we have been able to get into Ohio law and make sure they are implemented appropriately," Gonidakis says. The five measures include required tests for fetal heartbeats, unfunding of Planned Parenthood and bans on public hospitals signing transfer agreements with public hospitals.

Next step: Adoption
Gonidakis says his group's next goal is adoption reform.

"We have some strong interest in adoption reform," Gonidakis says. "Adoption is one of the greatest options for any mother who is not able to raise her own child. So we are going to be working with Sen. Shannon Jones this summer to put a comprehensive adoption bill forward so that’s our next step."

Gonidakis says that bill will focus on making adoption easier and more affordable. He is not ruling out more legislation on abortion, though.

"There were 24,000 abortions in Ohio last year, so our work is not done," Gonidakis says. "We are going to continue so we can end abortion in Ohio."

Gonidakis says Ohioans want their lawmakers to pass this type of legislation.And he says his organization stands ready to support lawmakers who voted for it.

"We strongly encourage the other side to make it a political issue because all of the polling demonstrates, both state and national, that Ohio is a pro life state," Gonidakis says.

"Just look at the latest Quinnipiac polling. Governor Kasich is at 54 percent; the next day, the poll showed President Obama dropped 29 points with women voters in the state of Ohio. So let’s make these issues front-and-center and talk about them because we know that Ohioans identify more with the pro-life movement than they do with the pro- choice movement."

'It's bait and switch'
Kellie Copeland with NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says Gonadakis is trying to distort the truth.

"Every exit poll in Ohio shows the majority of Ohioans are pro-choice," Copeland says. "And everyone who has any sort of memory whatsoever knows the 2010 election was about the economy. Gov. Kasich, in no way, campaigned on limiting access to women’s health care but that’s what we got when he got into office. It’s a bait-and-switch."

Copeland says her group will work to make sure voters remember these issues when they go to the polls next year.

"It’s important that over the next year, coming into the election, that voters understand that he has passed more restrictions on access to birth control, cancer screenings and women’s health care than any other governor in more than a decade," Copeland says. "And they need to keep that in mind when they vote next November in the 2014 election."

Copeland says her group is also looking to take some other immediate actions.

"Everything’s on the table," Copeland says. "We have attorneys and other expert litigators are looking at the language now to determine what kind of legal challenges will happen in the meantime. But ultimately, it will be the voters who hold Gov. Kasich responsible for endangering women’s health."

Barring any court action, the new measures involving family planning and abortion will go into effect in 90 days.

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