Last week, Ohio Republicans attached several anti-abortion provisions to a budget bill known as HB 59 in an effort to advance quietly by force what they couldn’t pass individually. In response, Ohio Democratic state Senator Nina Turner led a massive protest of the bill and called on women across the state to pressure Governor John Kasich to veto the provision before signing the bill into law.
But that’s not what Governor Kasich did on Sunday. He instead signed the bill and the extreme anti-choice provisions, effectively stripping women of their reproductive rights. The multiple provisions attached to the bill include defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding rape crisis centers, banning patient transfer agreements with hospitals that will require abortion clinics to close, funneling tax dollars to right-wing operated pregnancy crisis centers designed to bully women into carrying pregnancies to term, and forcing women to undergo ultrasounds to find a fetal heartbeat and then be lectured all about it by their doctor. All of these provisions are meant to act in unison to cripple choice and women’s health in Ohio, much to the absolute delight of conservatives and anti-choice groups.
As an added insult to women, Kasich signed the legislation in the company of men. Not a single woman flanked Kasich while he signed the bill, hammering home the fact that Republicans want conservative men to be in charge of the reproductive decisions of women. But this latest Republican salvo in their war on women isn’t supported by a majority of Ohioans. A PPP Poll has revealed that 52% disapprove of the anti-abortion provisions in the budget bill. In short, Republicans have clearly overstepped their authority and have disregarded the will of the people of Ohio to once again pass an extreme right-wing policy.
The last time Ohio Republicans made such a blatant move against public outrage was when they passed legislation to all but destroy public sector unions in the state. Ohioans came out in full force to overturn the legislation by a two to one margin. But a budget bill is different. Ohioans can always challenge the anti-abortion provisions and have them subsequently blocked in court, but it looks like the most effective way to change the law will be to boot Republicans out of the state government in 2014. Governor Kasich is up for reelection in that year as well, and this newest move against women’s reproductive rights will likely inspire and drive women away from the GOP in the state and nationally.
Clearly, Republicans have demonstrated that they haven’t learned any lessons from 2014. The only thing Republicans have done since losing in 2012 is to double down on their anti-women agenda, even though they lost the women vote by an 18% margin. Since the 2012 Election, the GOP has pursued their anti-abortion agenda in states such as North Dakota, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, and most recently in Texas, where the battle rages on thanks to the stand made by state Senator Wendy Davis. Ohio Republicans advanced their own agenda without debate by sneaking the provisions on a budget bill. By doing it this way, Republicans were able to avoid failing to pass them on an individual basis. In doing so, Republicans have angered women like never before, and a movement against the GOP is increasing in number. Republican may have succeeded in passing their agenda today, but they may regret doing so when women go to the voting booth in droves next November.