Longtime Anti-Choice Ally Mike DeWine Launches Ohio Gubernatorial Bid

DeWine once said he would have defended a total abortion ban passed by the GOP-dominated Ohio legislature.

Though DeWine has reportedly expressed “concern” over the possibility that Medicaid expansion could be rolled back, he has made no secret of his desire to see the end of President Obama's health-care reform law that has expanded health coverage to 700,000 people in Ohio. J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) announced the launch of his gubernatorial bid Sunday during an event at his home in Cedarville.

DeWine’s biographical entry on the state’s attorney general website boasts that the Republican “joined in the federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on his first day in office. Though DeWine has reportedly expressed “concern” over the possibility that Medicaid expansion, which has provided health coverage to 700,000 people in Ohio, could be rolled back, he has made no secret of his desire to see the end of President Obama’s health-care reform law.

Under the Senate GOP’s version of ACA repeal, there would be “flexibilities to governors” that would allow “states to choose between block grant and per-capita support for their Medicaid population beginning in 2020,” according to a summary published by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget. Health-care analysts say this GOP restructuring of Medicaid funding could leave states unable to cope with a public health crisis and do “irreparable damage” to the safety net of family planning providers.

Term-limited Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who spent much of the last presidential election cycle mounting a failed bid for the Republican nomination, made massive rollbacks in access to reproductive health care for residents of the state. Kasich has signed at least 16 anti-choice measures into law and his aides played a key role in crafting bill language on a restriction that ultimately led to half of state’s outpatient abortion clinics closing or discontinuing abortion services.

That legacy could be continued should DeWine succeed Kasich.

DeWine has gone to bat in defense of Ohio’s abortion restrictions. Though Kasich in December ultimately vetoed a so-called heartbeat bill that aimed to end legal abortion in the state, DeWine told Ohio Public Radio that he would have defended the unconstitutional law would it have been signed.

DeWine co-sponsored numerous abortion restrictions during his time serving in both chambers of Congress. 

On his archived 2006 campaign site, DeWine said that he was “one of the [U.S.] Senate’s strongest defenders of the lives of unborn children, and has a 100 percent pro-life voting record.” Previous versions of his biography as attorney general lauded his work to restrict abortion access, explaining that he “wrote the ‘DeWine Amendment’ each Congress to prohibit federal tax dollars from being used to pay for insurance to provide abortion coverage.”

That amendment banned federal employee health plans from covering abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

DeWine has maintained a close relationship with Ohio Right to Life and its leader, Mike Gonidakis, who in 2012 was appointed to Ohio’s medical board by Kasich. A February 2016 report from the Associated Press analyzing information turned over in public record requests found that DeWine and Gonidakis corresponded through emails and text messages. According to the report, “Records show DeWine and Gonidakis at times sharing direct emails. DeWine on two occasions congratulated Gonidakis … after the anti-abortion leader sent him a link to a media spot in which he was mentioned.”

“After three people were killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Gonidakis shared his talking points with a local newspaper and welcomed DeWine to borrow them,” the AP reported.

Jon Husted, Ohio’s secretary of state, has also launched a bid for the Republican nomination for governor.