Ohio’s 69th governor is arguably the most pious and sanctimonious in the state’s 213 year history. Gov. John Kasich will be out of office when his term ends in two years, but he’s being widely applauded for showing restraint for signing a bill that bans abortion at 20 weeks instead of a much harsher bill that bans abortion after a few weeks when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

It read almost like fake news when Columbus Dispatch editor Alan D. Miller congratulated Mr. Kasich on signing a 20-week abortion ban bill instead of the so-called “Heartbeat” bill.

“To his credit, Gov. John Kasich vetoed the most restrictive abortion bill, which was roundly criticized as unconstitutional, even by many who push for restrictions on abortion,” the capital city paper’s editor wrote recently in “When lawmakers run amok, we’re on it.” The commentary decried a flock of bad bills Gov. Kasich has or is expected to sign into law, making him co-author of them.

When Mr. Kasich signed the 20-week abortion ban bill sent to him in the lame-duck session of the legislature, he upped to 18 the number of anti-women’s health bills that have become law with his signature. A little factoid Mr. Miller forgot or chose not to mention was this, it was to Kasich’s discredit that he signed 17 other bad bills related to women’s healthcare over the last six years in office.

Jeanne Bauer, a certified nurse midwife, wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer just how heartless the governor’s decision to sign SB 127, the 20-week abortion ban bill into law recently. “Let me make one thing clear: Although SB 127 appears less extreme than the proposed six-week ban, a 20-week ban will be lethal for women,” she said of Kasich’s decision. “It’s a choice that Gov. Kasich will never have to make. But to sign SB 127, and disguise it as a compromise, was the decision that, to me, was truly heartless.”

For those who haven’t followed Kasich’s long and lucrative career in politics, when the subject of women’s health or abortion is brought up, the normally glib governor who seems to have a flippant answer on many subjects, becomes tongue-tied, able to utter just three words: “I’m pro-life.”

But with little effort, he’s successfully managed to mislead and misdirect all media, from national to state, who dutifully report his stated reasons—costs and constitutionality—about why he signed a 20-week abortion ban bill into law and not the draconian “Heartbeat” bill.

Meanwhile, media outlets and their reporters following Ohio’s governor, have failed to ask the governor one simple question: But for the potential costs taxpayers will be saddled with to defend the likely unconstitutionality of bills he’s made into law that now include the 20-week abortion ban bill, would he prefer the stricter limitations imposed by the Heartbeat bill? Yes or no?

Gov. Kasich was thoroughly shellacked this year when he ran for the presidency for the second time since 2000. He made his moral compass, which he says is set by his Lord and Master, a central part of his sales job to be president. With 18 laws under his belt that hamper women pursuing their constitutional rights to abortion, his moral compass apparently hasn’t guided him to make their lives easier should they become pregnant through rape or incest, two situations not included by majority Republicans who sent him the bills without any public input in the waning days of this legislative session.

A letter to the editor of The Toledo Blade, from Jeffrey Pitzen of Northwood, asked an important if not blunt question Gov. Kasich ought to answer: “Where in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights is a religious faction in this country given the authority to impose upon the entire country its religious belief?”

His stated reasons of cost and constitutionality appear designed to misdirect away from what he really believes ought to be the standard for women. They provide convenient cover for the governor’s closely held religious beliefs that might otherwise find fulfillment in the heartbeat bill, if political calculations—of which he constantly claims he rises above—were not a factor in his decision making on such controversial subjects.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to be rebuilt by President Donald Trump with anti-choice justices all too ready to overturn Roe v Wade. This consideration was central to why the Ohio legislature passed these bills now, since legislative leaders foresee an opportunity ahead to one day make constitutional currently unconstitutional bills like Heartbeat.

The Washington Post made the observation that Kasich’s signing of the 20-weeks prohibition is exactly the kind of incrementalism that can lead to Heartbeat bills one day becoming constitutional. Similar bills already exist in 15 other states, with Ohio become the 19th to adopt the policy even though courts in three have blocked them.

“It comes into conflict with Roe’s guarantee of the right to an abortion until a fetus could survive outside the womb – which scientists say usually happens around 24 weeks. But the viability rule has always had its critics, and to anti-abortion advocates today it’s the perfect target: What looks like nibbling at the edges of an already-arbitrary stricture is actually a way to chip at the bedrock of abortion jurisprudence. This model has been the cornerstone of a quieter campaign to ban all abortion in the long term,” Molly Roberts wrote.

Will Gov. Kasich disagree with the new president’s supreme court picks, should a litmus test to their selection include overturning Roe v Wade? Will he protest any future court decision that overturns the law? Politically convenient excuses related to cost and judicial rigor are easy to give, and easily swallowed by myopic media ready to applaud restraint even though that restraint is still extreme.

 

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