Republican presidential hopeful and Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Sunday signed a bill that aims to strip funding from Planned Parenthood in the state. [...] After Kasich came in a strong second place in the New Hampshire primary, the Republican assembly in Ohio passed legislation that targets about $1.3 million in funding for Planned Parenthood in the state. That money helps support screenings for breast cancer, STD testing, programs working to prevent violence against women, and more.
As the field of Republican presidential candidate shrinks to just five people, John Kasich has adopted a rather specific posture: he's the grown-up in the room. The rest of the field includes two first-term senators and two political amateurs, leaving the Ohio governor as the only candidate stressing qualities such as executive experience, governing skills, and pragmatism.
And that makes perfect sense given the circumstances. Kasich can't be as right-wing as his rivals; he can't be as unhinged as his rivals; and he certainly can't avoid the "career politician" label. Looking for an opening, the Republican governor has decided to present himself as a more mainstream, and more electable, conservative.
In the five-person GOP field, that leaves Kasich as the last option for the party's remaining "moderate" voters. But let's not mistake perceptions for reality. As we were reminded over the weekend, the Ohio Republican may be playing the role of 2016 pragmatist, but that doesn't make him an actual moderate.
Remember, we're not talking about public funding of abortions, which is already largely prohibited. Rather, state lawmakers passed a measure to block "any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions" from receiving funds for women's health treatments that have nothing to do with terminating pregnancies.
And Kasich, eager to curry favor with his party's far-right base, eagerly signed the bill into law.
The NBC affiliate in Columbus reported that Planned Parenthood's work in Ohio will continue, "but its community health programs would be cut. The group says programs targeted in the bill helped Planned Parenthood in the last year to provide more than 47,000 STD tests and 3,600 HIV tests to Ohioans, serve nearly 2,800 new or expectant mothers, and inform young people and women about healthy relationships."
In other words, in practical terms, John Kasich decided to slash services for thousands of Ohio women, for no substantive reason, with a simple stroke of his pen. The public will pay a steep price because the governor wants to advance his ambitions.
This is what passes for "moderation" among GOP presidential candidates in 2016.
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece, and her work is unrelated to the organization's affiliates in Ohio.