FILE - Int this Feb. 7, 2012, file photo, Ohio Gov. John Kasich delivers his State of the State address at Wells Academy/Steubenville High School in...
Tony Dejak

Dear John Kasich: ‘I’m pro-life’ doesn’t explain ‘rape-gag’ rule

If you have not cast your vote early then you have two more days. Two days to gather information. Weighing the relevant facts to make informed decisions. To make those decisions we depend on candidates explaining their positions and decisions.

But in this midterm election there is one candidate who has been trying to hide some information and trying to distract with irrelevant bits of information. That less-than-forthcoming incumbent is getting my letter this week.

Dear Gov. John Kasich,

It’s me, Melissa.

I couldn’t help but notice when last month the negotiations for a public debate between yourself and challenger Ed FitzGerald fell apart. That was the first time in nearly three decades that Ohio voters did not get a chance to hear a debate between the candidates for the state’s highest office.

Melissa Harris-Perry, 11/2/14, 11:42 AM ET

Ohio governor avoids questions on bill restricting…

Melissa Harris-Perry’s open letter goes out to Ohio Governor John Kasich, who she says has been “less than forthcoming” about why he signed a bill into law that denies women information about their reproductive choices.
Your campaign spokeswoman said you would be “seeking other, additional avenues” to discuss your accomplishments, and “answer whatever direct, tough questions people may have.”

Well, you were asked one of those “direct, tough questions” last week at an endorsement interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer by your opponent, Mr. FitzGerald.

“Why was it important to have a piece of legislation that literally imposed a gag rule on rape crisis counselors?

Okay, Governor Kasich. There’s your direct question. Whatcha got?

“Would you like to answer that, Governor?”
“Do you have a question?”

Just to be clear, Governor: that was you, not answering, but ignoring the question–of someone sitting next to you! I mean, actually pretending the question did not happen. And it’s not a trivial question, either. In fact, it’s one I bet many Ohio voters would like to hear you answer.

That legislation Mr. Fitzgerald referenced is the budget bill you signed into law last June. A budget bill that included some of the country’s most stringent and regressive restrictions on women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights. And some of the worst of those restrictions that are about information.
Like the new provision that says funding for services for pregnant women can only go to an entity that “is not involved in or associated with any abortion activities, including providing abortion counseling or referrals to abortion clinics, performing abortion-related medical procedures, or engaging in pro-abortion advertising.”

That provision is likely to strip public funding from Planned Parenthood  in the state. Even though no public funds are ever used for abortion, this law means that there may soon be no public funding for critical services like cancer screenings either just because Planned Parenthood provides information about abortion.

And it also means that rape crisis centers are legally barred from providing women with information about abortion - or they are liable to lose all state funding. And that is just the beginning isn’t it Governor, because the bill also has a provision  requiring a doctor search “for the presence of a fetal heartbeat” - and then “inform the pregnant woman in writing that the unborn human individual the pregnant woman is carrying has a fetal heartbeat.” And “inform the pregnant woman… of the statistical probability of bringing the unborn human individual possessing a detectable fetal heartbeat to term.”

So, Governor, you signed into law provisions that restrict the information women need to make decisions while requiring they receive medically unnecessary information after they have already made a decision. But for all your meddling in the kind of information that women can get or must get, you do not seem to think your constituents need any information from you about why you made the choice to support that bill.

Before the bill came to your desk last year, you responded to a question about the provisions, saying:

“I’ll examine the language, keeping in mind that I’m pro-life.”

And after you signed the bill, you made no mention of those provisions, and didn’t take questions from reporters. Then last week when you were asked, in person, to justify your signature on that bill - to explain why it is good public policy to deny women information about their reproductive choices. You didn’t.

“I think everyone here knows that I’m pro-life… What we’ve focused on, and I’ve always focused on, is the issue of life. Pre-natal, post-natal, early childhood, sleep for babies, truing to drive down infant mortality. Let’s focus on the life issue…

“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what I think is a pro-life, uh, you know, looking, being in a position of being pro-life.”

Governor, that is not acceptable. Perhaps you should spend less time worried about the medical information the people of Ohio receive from their doctors and more time focused on providing them the political information they need to make an informed decision about your bid for re-election.  

Sincerely,
Melissa

Abortion, Decision 2014, John Kasich and Ohio

Dear John Kasich: 'I'm pro-life' doesn't explain 'rape-gag' rule