Republican presidential candidate John Kasich defended abortion restrictions he has signed as governor even as he rejected a call last week by Donald Trump to legally punish women who have had abortions.
In an interview Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Kasich said he “has been very careful about making sure that we don’t pass something that’s going to cause a constitutional conflict,” even though critics charge those laws have been a factor that led to the closing of half the clinics in Ohio which perform abortions
Kasich reiterated his call for the U.S. Supreme to “repeal” Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling by the high court which guarantees a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion, adding if justices in the future invalidate Roe “it will be up to the states to decide how they want to proceed … and that’s precisely what we would do.”
Kasich appeared to use his appearance on ABC to reassure social conservatives he firmly opposes abortion rights while simultaneously trying to distance himself from the abortion views of GOP presidential contenders Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
He did so by pointing out he favors abortion in the event of rape, incest or life of mother while Cruz only would allow an exception to save the mother’s life. And Kasich took a jab against Trump by saying “trying to punish a woman would not be the appropriate way to behave.”
Trump last week provoked a searing controversy when he said on MSNBC that if abortion is outlawed, a woman having an abortion might be punished. Trump later backed off that comment to say the physician performing the abortion might face punishment.
Those who favor abortion rights dismiss any suggestions Kasich has a moderate stance on abortion rights. Sandy Theis, executive director of Progress Ohio — a progressive policy organization — said “don’t listen to what he says, look at what he’s done.”
“He’s closed half of Ohio’s clinics and enacted 16 new abortion restrictions — including one that even bans rape crisis counselors from referring women to abortion services,” said Theis, who sits on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
Kasich signed the 2013 budget, which included a requirement that clinics have an agreement to transfer patients to a local hospital in the event of the emergency. But the law also prevents public hospitals from having a transfer agreement with an abortion clinic.
Earlier this year, Kasich signed a bill that cuts off more than $1.3 million for Planned Parenthood. The bill swept through the legislature following the revelation of secretly recorded videos by opponents of abortion rights that suggested Planned Parenthood officials in some states talked about selling aborted fetal tissue.
Planned Parenthood sharply disputed the accusation, saying it only received money to cover the costs of preserving and transporting fetuses, which is legal.
Planned Parenthood says none of the money it received from the state of Ohio went for abortion services. Instead, they say, the $1.3 million was used for health programs, such as reducing infant mortality and providing breast cancer screenings.
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