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Ohio's Kasich approves sweeping restrictions on reproductive rights

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By Steve Benen
With Ohio’s state budget awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s (R) signature over the weekend, many in the state hoped the Republican governor would have the courage to eliminate sweeping new restrictions on reproductive rights, added to the budget with minimal debate, before he signed it into law.
That did not happen.

Gov. John Kasich last night vetoed language attempting to block him from moving forward with Medicaid expansion, but did not touch any of the anti-abortion language before signing the new two-year, $62 billion state budget.
The budget takes effect today, the first day of the new fiscal year.

The above video shows Kasich completing the budget process last night — surrounded, incidentally, by middle-aged white men — and was published online by Ohio Capital Blog.
As Rachel explained on Friday night’s show, everything about these new measures in the Buckeye State is quite jarring. For one thing, this was a budget bill, not legislation intended to address women’s health and/or abortion. For another, these provisions were added as amendments to the budget at the last minute, without debate, and without hearings in which lawmakers could hear, or even consider, the effects on those who’ll suffer as a result of the new policies.
And the policies themselves are nothing short of breathtaking in their scope:
* Rape crisis centers will operate under a state-imposed gag order — rape-crisis counselors will face new restrictions when telling impregnated rape victims that they can legally terminate their pregnancy.
* The budget effectively defunds Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.
* There’s a provision to require women seeking legal abortions to undergo a state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasound — even if women don’t want one, and if their doctor doesn’t recommend one. Ohio Republicans proudly declared they want to put themselves between patients and their physicians, prescribing specific procedures for no medical reason.
* Women will also be required to pay for state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasounds they do not want and their doctors do not think they need.
* Physicians will be legally required to deliver a Republican-written speech to women seeking legal abortions. Whether the doctor believes what’s in the script, or even wants to say those words to his or her patient, has been deemed irrelevant.
* Clinics that provide abortion services will be required to have transfer agreements with local hospitals, and then bans public hospitals from establishing those agreements, all in the hopes of shutting the clinics down.
* And Republican policymakers in the state decided to redefine the words “pregnancy” and “fetus” in state law — the budget decides that a woman is pregnant even before a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine lining. The effect of this policy may prevent a woman from using an IUD in the state of Ohio.
Kasich has a line-item veto power, and could have signed the budget without these new measures. But he chose instead to leave these provisions intact, signing the budget, shaking a few hands, and then quickly leaving the room before anyone could ask him any questions.
Read it at The Rachel Maddow Show blog here.