As the nation stands riveted by one of the most dramatic debates over abortion restrictions unfolding in the Texas Legislature, another state 1,200 miles away managed to more quietly suppress a women's right to choose.
On Sunday night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law the state’s new $62 billion budget that includes as amendments some of the most prohibitive abortion measures in the country.
Unlike in Texas, where lawmakers are debating legislation strictly designed to address women's health and reproductive rights, Ohio lawmakers added the state's new abortion restrictions as amendments to the budget bill, which saw minimal debate before being signed into law.
"They should've had the courage to debate that anti-women legislation on its own," said State Sen. Nina Turner, who on Monday announced a run for Ohio secretary of state, in an interview with msnbc Monday. "But they did not have the courage to do that, so they tucked it into a budget bill."
Under its provisions, the budget requires a woman to undergo a trans-abdominal ultrasound before receiving an abortion, regardless of whether or not the ultrasound is medically necessary. The budget also severely guts Planned Parenthood clinics in the state by cutting off $1.4 million in federal funding, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
Additionally, the budget targets rape crisis centers by imposing restrictions on what counselors can say to victims who have been impregnated by their rapists. If these clinics counsel victims on abortion options, the budget allows for their public funding to be suspended, Reuters reports.
Clinics that provide abortion services will also be required to obtain transfer agreements with local hospitals, but the budget bans public hospitals from establishing those agreements. Therefore, should a medical issue arise during an abortion, a woman would have to find a private hospital to treat her. Already, one of two abortion providers in Toledo, Ohio, was forced to close its doors after failing to obtain a transfer agreement with area hospitals.
For the clinics that do manage to stay open, physicians will be legally bound to provide materials informing women seeking abortions of the fetus' "probable anatomical and physiological characteristics” during various stages of development. Doctors must also give women additional information on family planning alternatives if a heartbeat can be detected, the Plain Dealer reports.
The budget defines “fetus” as the “human offspring developing during pregnancy from the moment of conception,” meaning before the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This language could be used to make illegal certain forms of contraception, like an IUD, in the state of Ohio, writes Maddow Blog's Steve Benan.
Ohio's abortion-busting budget comes amid an intense debate over a renewed Republican-led effort to limit reproductive rights at both the national and state levels. Two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization. And the Texas Legislature reconvened on Monday for another special session after Republican hopes to pass a similar anti-abortion bill were thwarted by State Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster.
Two days after Davis drew hundreds of supporters for her 11-hour filibuster of sweeping abortion restrictions, a smaller, but still sizable, crowd flocked to the Ohio Statehouse in protest. According to the Huffington Post, demonstrators delivered 17,000 letters to Kasich’s office asking him to veto the abortion restrictions.
Despite vetoing 22 other measures, the Ohio governor left the ones related to abortion intact.
Stephanie Kight, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, in a statement called the provisions “an orchestrated effort to roll back women’s rights and access to health care."
“The budget is only the latest in a series of restrictive laws signed by John Kasich that have hurt the women in our state who need more access to health care, not less,” she said.
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis applauded Kasich in a statement, saying: “It took great compassion and courage for our governor and pro-life legislature to stand up to the abortion industry that blatantly pressured them.”
Kasich, who has become something of a “blueprint for success” within the GOP, has seen his name floated recently as a possible presidential contender. Asked about his political ambitions during a press conference on the state budget, Kasich said he just wants to do his job as governor, and that he doesn’t think about “other hills to climb.”
“This is a big enough climb for me,” he said.