COLUMBUS — Many states are currently taking up the issue of abortion rights and restrictions. The Dayton Daily News asked the Republican and Democratic candidates for Ohio governor on the May 3 primary ballot where they stand on five major issues — including abortion.
The Democratic candidates are John Cranley and Nan Whaley. The Republican candidates are incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine, Joe Blystone, Ron Hood and Jim Renacci.
Below are their responses, edited for length and clarity.
Question: With the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade, what should be Ohio’s policy on abortion?
Nan Whaley: “I believe in a woman’s right to choose, and I’ve spent my entire career fighting to protect women’s access to abortion. I’m the only candidate in this race that has a career of doing just that. When Women’s Med Center in Kettering was being threatened with closure, I stood with Pro-Choice Ohio and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio to make sure it met the requirements to stay open.
“When Roe v. Wade falls, the governor will be the last stop in abortion access rights. Here’s what I’ll do as governor to protect these rights: I’ll appoint a pro-choice director of public health who will work with organizations across the state to make sure Ohioans have access to birth control and the ability to easily see a doctor; I’ll veto any bill that restricts access to reproductive care; and I’ll make sure abortion is accessible for those who need it.
“Don’t just take my word for it: every organization in Ohio and nationally who cares about this issue — from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, to Pro-Choice Ohio, to EMILY’s List — has endorsed my candidacy for governor.”
Jim Renacci: “I am 100% pro-life. I firmly believe that life is our most precious gift and that we must protect the sanctity of all life, from conception on. This is another major issue on which Mike DeWine and I differ. DeWine has repeatedly betrayed his past commitments to the pro-life cause, like allowing Ohio State University, a publicly funded institution, to organize pro-abortion events for students such as the ‘thank an abortion provider week.’
“As governor I will keep my word and advance a pro-life agenda to the fullest extent permitted by law. That’s why Ohio’s leading pro-life advocacy organizations, Ohio Value Voters, and Right to Life Action Coalition, have endorsed me for governor, and rescinded their prior support for DeWine when he ran for governor four years ago.”
Ron Hood: Hood’s campaign has not responded to requests for comment. His website states the following position:
“Ron Hood and Candice Keller passed Ohio’s House version of the Heartbeat Bill, which will save the lives of 20,000 Ohio babies annually. This bill cuts to the heart of Roe v. Wade, is one of 15 Heartbeat Bills introduced nationwide that will stop the killing of the innocent unborn.”
“After Heartbeat passed, Hood-Keller introduced ‘Life at Conception’ (Bill) in hopes of stopping all abortions in Ohio. That bill is still moving ahead in the Ohio House even today. All life is precious, from conception until natural death.”
Hood and Keller sponsored a version of the heartbeat bill when both were state legislators. It died in a House committee, but a Senate version passed. Its implementation has been blocked by a federal court.
Mike DeWine: DeWine’s campaign did not provide a response by deadline. His website includes this statement:
“Mike DeWine is the most pro-life governor in Ohio history. One of the first bills he signed into law was the ‘Heartbeat Bill,’ which bans abortion in Ohio once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Gov. DeWine also recently signed the ‘Born Alive Infant Protection Act’ to ensure life-saving measures for babies who survive abortions.”
Senate Bill 157, the “born alive” bill, expands the first-degree felony definition of abortion manslaughter to include failing to try to keep alive an infant born after an attempted abortion, such as by transferring an infant to a hospital. A portion of the bill also targets the Women’s Med Center in Kettering, seeking to make its operation difficult or impossible.
John Cranley: “We will stand up for individual rights but at the same time support policies to expand contraceptive access, provide child care, and the early educational assistance that help families thrive.
“I am pro-choice, and as governor I will veto any effort to undermine reproductive freedom. Raised in a Catholic household, I started out in a different place on this issue, like Tim Ryan, Joe Biden and many others. About 15 years ago, my wife, Dena, and I wanted to start a family. We went through some very personal fertility decisions. During that process, it became clear to me what Dena was already telling me: Government has no role in reproductive decisions.
“With Roe v. Wade under threat from the U.S. Supreme Court, governors will be the ultimate backstop. That is why I believe my lieutenant governor running mate, (state) Sen. Teresa Fedor — a longtime champion of reproductive rights — and I have the records and forward-looking agenda to win in November.
“Just this week, Sen. Fedor introduced a plan to provide universal preschool across Ohio. Studies show that early learning is critical to high school graduation rates. In turn, the socialization learned in preschool leads to long-term employability.”
Joe Blystone: Blystone’s campaign did not provide a response by deadline. His website includes this statement:
“Our creator first established that every human life, however it comes into being, is equally precious. I believe that the sanctity of every life — of the unborn, elderly, disabled, or any ethnicity, from any socio-economic situation — forms the very foundation of our constitutional republic. Without it, there can be no life, liberty or pursuit of happiness. As governor, I will stand with efforts to preserve every life from conception to death.”