Media Calling Kasich “Moderate” Ignore His Extreme Anti-Choice Record

Media have hailed presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich as a “moderate,” ignoring that as governor he oversaw the shuttering of half of the state's abortion clinics and implemented extreme hurdles to legal abortion in the state.

Kasich Focuses On “Centrist Appeal” During Campaign Launch 

New York Times: Kasich Enters 2016 Race “Offering A Centrist Appeal Designed To Paint Him As A Common-Sense Midwesterner.” On July 21, Gov. John Kasich announced his entrance into the 2016 presidential race. According to The New York Times' coverage of Kasich's announcement, the candidate “offer[ed] a centrist appeal,” and touted his congressional and gubernatorial record:

Mr. Kasich, joined by his wife and 15-year-old twin daughters, addressed several thousand cheering supporters inside the student union building at Ohio State University here, offering a centrist appeal designed to paint him as a common-sense Midwesterner who can fix a broken Washington. He avoided attacking President Obama, as his Republican rivals have done. [The New York Times7/21/15]

Kasich's Extreme Anti-Choice Record Places Him “Among The Worst Of Anti-Choice Governors In This Country's History”

Mother JonesKasich Considered “Moderate” Despite Having Enacted 16 Measures That Restrict Abortion Access Since 2011.  As Mother Jones explained in a July 27 article, although Kasich has been “widely labeled the moderate in a GOP field that tilts sharply to the right,” as governor he “signed and supported some of the most stringent anti-abortion legislation in the country.” Since 2011, Kasich has enacted 16 anti-abortion measures, leading the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio to argue that he is “among the worst of anti-choice governors in this country's history”: 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the latest Republican to step into the presidential fray, has widely been labeled the moderate in a GOP field that tilts sharply to the right. Climate change? It's real. Common Core educational standards? He'll take it. Medicaid expansion? Sure. Immigration reform? He's open to the possibilities. But his celebrated moderation disappears when it comes to reproductive rights. The religious * former congressman and two-term governor is a hardliner on abortion: As governor he's signed and supported some of the most stringent anti-abortion legislation in the country. 

“Kasich is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's going out there trying to sell himself as a moderate, he's no moderate. He is an extremist,” says Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, an abortion rights advocacy group. “He is--if not the worst--among the worst of anti-choice governors in this country's history.”

Since Kasich entered office in 2011, he has enacted 16 anti-abortion measures. Some directly restrict abortion access, such as the 20-week late-term ban that he signed six months after entering office. Others limit the work of abortion providers. For example, in 2013 he signed the state's budget bill, which included one provision that prohibits state-funded rape crisis counselors from referring women to abortion services and another that stripped Planned Parenthood of an estimated $1.4 million in federal family-planning dollars. The measures have had drastic consequences for access to abortion and medical care for Ohio women: During Kasich's time in office, the number of abortion providers in the state has dropped from 16 to eight. [Mother Jones7/27/15]

Kasich Oversaw The Closure Of Half Of Ohio's Abortion Clinics. As RH Reality Check noted in a July 22 article, Kasich “spearheaded a targeted effort against legal abortion access, leading to the closure of half of the state's outpatient abortion clinics”:

Ohio had 14 abortion clinics in 2013, two years into Kasich's first term. But that summer, flanked by a group of all-male state officials, Kasich signed a two-year budget bill that included, among other anti-choice measures, stringent new licensing regulations for abortion clinics in the state. 

Those regulations required that every clinic have a written agreement with a local, private hospital that says it will accept clinic patients in cases of emergency, or else apply for an exemption. The GOP's anti-choice law explicitly states the agreement cannot be with a public hospital system. [RH Reality Check, 7/22/15]

Kasich's 2013 State Budget Included A Rape "Gag Rule" And Stripped Funding From Planned Parenthood. The 2013 state budget signed into law by Gov. Kasich included a number of extreme anti-choice provisions, including a rape “gag rule” prohibiting state-funded rape crisis counselors from referring women to abortion services in addition and another stripping Planned Parenthood's funding. [ThinkProgress, 6/6/13; ThinkProgress, 10/29/14]

Media Hail Kasich As “Moderate,”  Ignoring His Extreme Anti-Choice Record

Forbes: Kasich Is The “Real Deal,” And A “Moderate Conservative.” Contending that Kasich's announcement “deserved a lot more attention than it got,” Forbes contributor John Zogby argued that Kasich can reach across the aisle as a “moderate conservative” who has “worked successfully with Democrats”:

While this may not be popular with hardliners in the GOP, Kasich is a moderate conservative. He favors smaller government and tax reform, but he has worked successfully with Democrats to pass both important legislation and to be an early adopter of Medicaid expansion in Ohio under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, he has not shied away from battling teachers unions on the issues of both pension reform and Common Core Curriculum. He seems to govern practically, not ideologically. [Forbes, 7/24/15]

New York Times: Kasich Has “Recently Taken More Centrist Positions.” The New York Times wrote that Kasich has “recently taken more centrist positions” on issues ranging from foreign policy to marriage equality to immigration, failing to note the governor's record on reproductive health:

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has announced his candidacy on Tuesday for the Republican presidential nomination. Known as a fiscal conservative during his nine terms in Congress, Mr. Kasich has recently taken more centrist positions, defending spending on social programs and noting his willingness to work with Democrats on immigration. Here are his positions on some important issues. [The New York Times7/21/15]

FiveThirtyEight: “Kasich Could Be The GOP's Moderate Backstop.”  FiveThirtyEight argued that Gov. Kasich could be “the most electable representative of the moderate wing of the Republican Party” based on his “relatively moderate track record”: 

Still, how does he position himself against candidates like Bush who have gotten off to a faster start?

The answer is pretty simple: Kasich can be the most electable representative of the moderate wing of the Republican Party.

Kasich has a relatively moderate track record, according to the various statistical systems that measure a candidate's ideology. In fact, he's right between Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney on the ideological spectrum. [, 4/14/15]