Flanked by a group of other male officials, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a contentious two-year budget bill into law on Sunday evening. The governor vetoed 22 amendments to HB 59 before approving it, but he left intact several provisions that will severely limit women’s reproductive access.
The new budget, which takes effect on Monday, includes at least five new anti-abortion provisions. HB 59 will defund Planned Parenthood clinics, reallocate family planning funding to right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers,” strip funding from rape crisis centers that give their clients any information about abortion services, impose harsh restrictions on abortion clinics that will force many of them to shut down, and require doctors to give women seeking abortion information about the presence of a “fetal heartbeat.”
Taken together, the budget amendments ensure that Ohio now has some of the most stringent abortion laws in the nation.
In a press release, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards blasted Kasich’s decision to approve HB 59’s abortion-related amendments. “Like Governor Perry in Texas, politicians in Ohio knew they couldn’t pass these unpopular measures if they played by the rules — that’s why they tried to bury these provisions in the pages of a must-pass state budget,” Richards pointed out in a statement, referring to the legislators in Texas who continue attempting to push through abortion restrictions during a special session. “If they thought no one was looking, Ohioans proved they were wrong. Texas lit a fuse.”
Just like the grassroots protesters who are working to block a package of abortion restrictions in Texas, Ohio voters also mobilized to oppose HB 59. Women’s health advocates rallied on the steps of the state capitol on Thursday afternoon as both chambers considered the budget bill. After the legislature approved HB 59, a crowd of activists shouted “Shame on you!” and were escorted from the chamber. Opponents delivered over 17,000 petitions to the governor asking him to veto HB 59’s abortion provisions.
According to a recent poll from the Public Policy Polling group, HB 59 isn’t popular with Ohio voters as a whole, either. Fifty two percent of respondents said they didn’t support the budget specifically because it includes attacks on reproductive rights, like defunding Planned Parenthood and shutting down abortion clinics.