Thursday, February 11, 2016

John Kasich campaigns like a moderate, but on women's health he's your basic Republican nightmare

John Kasich has positioned himself in the Republican presidential primary as the … maybe not quite moderate guy, but the establishment guy with a heart. The not-so-far-out-there candidate in a field of way-far-out-there candidates. Thing is, when you look at Kasich’s record—separate from how he’s positioned in the terrifying presidential field—he’s damn scary himself.

As Ohio governor, Kasich backed an attack on public workers that voters rose up and overturned. He’s been a big cheerleader for privatization—of prisonsschools, the lottery. And on reproductive rights, he’s been your basic nightmare Republican. Most recently, Kasich:

… is likely to sign an Ohio bill into law that prohibits some state and federal funding from being distributed to facilities that perform and promote what are known as "nontherapuetic abortions"—abortions performed in cases that are not related to rape, incest, or life endangerment of the mother—even though the funds are not used to pay for any abortion services. The measure effectively strips Ohio's Planned Parenthood affiliates of $1.3 million in funding.

The new law targets specific Planned Parenthood programs for services such as HIV and STI testing, as well as cancer screenings, rape prevention programs, and sex education for youth in foster care and the juvenile detention system.

The cuts will also affect the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program, a neighborhood outreach effort by Ohio's Planned Parenthood that offers support and education to high-risk African American women in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. These women receive in-home visits throughout their pregnancies and for the first two years after giving birth. In these impoverished areas, African American women are twice as likely to give birth to a baby with a low birth weight than the population at large. Ohio ranks 45th nationally for its infant mortality rate, and has one of the highest rates of infant death for African American mothers in the country.

If that isn’t a perfect example of how Republican attacks on abortion are in reality broader attacks on health care for low-income women, then nothing is. Abortion is certainly a target, but it’s not the only one. This is about keeping people—women, especially—in poverty. And punishing them for it.

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