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Elections 2014: Abortion a Rallying Point for Kasich Opponents on Both Sides of Issue

A billboard across the street from Toledo's last remaining abortion clinic, Capital Care.
A billboard across the street from Toledo's last remaining abortion clinic, Capital Care.

Republicans lawmakers have passed several measures in recent years that made it harder for women to get abortions, made it tougher for abortion clinics to operate and took away funds for family planning from Planned Parenthood.

NARAL Pro Choice Ohio's Kellie Copeland said Gov. John Kasich and his colleagues in the legislature have made bad laws for Ohio's women.

"This is a governor who has passed 11 separate policies that undermine women's access to contraception, cancer screenings, to abortion care, to information," Copeland said. "This is not a governor who is working for women. This is a governor who is working against women."

Critics of these new laws say many of them were passed without medical support, and without proper debate in committee hearings. Democratic State Sen. Nina Turner was one of several lawmakers in her party who took the legislature to task over newly passed bills she said are part of a war on women.

"Women do not need permission slips from government," Turner said. "They certainly don't need any more legislative or executive daddies to tell us what is in our best interest and so we are not going to be silent."

And they haven't been. Abortion rights advocates and physicians have rallied at the Ohio Statehouse, protesting the new laws. The entire Democratic ticket was endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.

While these protesters might hate the new laws, there are others who support them. Mike Gonidakis is with Ohio Right to Life says the new laws are working.

"There were 14 abortion clinics about 12 to 18 months ago," Gonidakis said. "Today there's 8 left."

Ohio Right to Life has endorsed Republican Governor John Kasich. But there are abortion opponents who think the new laws don't go far enough.

Janet Folger Porter with Faith 2 Action represents a group of people who want the Ohio legislature to pass what is known as the heartbeat bill. That legislation bans abortion at the point when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

These opponents have rallied at the Statehouse and put pressure on lawmakers. The latest attempt is a television ad chastising Kasich and Republican legislative leaders for not passing the ban:

Folger Porter's group also held a prayer vigil recently at the Ohio Statehouse where she broke down crying as she spoke about the need for this bill to pass.

"I don't care anymore what people think," Folger Porter said. "Did you ever get to the point where you are so desperate for God that you don't care? That's where we are."

Folger Porter has also written editorials in newspapers, asking people to require Republican leaders to promise to pass the controversial bill before voting for them.

Rick Jackson is a senior host and producer at Ideastream Public Media. He hosts the "Sound of Ideas" on WKSU and "NewsDepth" on WVIZ.