Governor John Kasich signs Ohio bill to cut Planned Parenthood funding

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Republican presidential hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich on Sunday signed a bill that aims to strip funding from Planned Parenthood in the state.

It's a long-expected but controversial move that ignites a debate that seeped into his presidential campaign. Kasich faced a number of protesters this week while campaigning in South Carolina who challenged him on the issue during his events.

After Kasich came in a strong second place in the New Hampshire primary, the Republican assembly in Ohio passed legislation that targets about $1.3 million in funding for Planned Parenthood in the state.

That money helps support screenings for breast cancer, STD testing, programs working to prevent violence against women, and more. State and federal laws already prohibit taxpayer dollars from going to fund abortions, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

Although the legislation does not specifically name the organization — it cites "any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions" — and it's believed that Planned Parenthood will be most affected.

See photos of John Kasich through his career

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John Kasich through his career
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Governor John Kasich signs Ohio bill to cut Planned Parenthood funding
MT. PLEASANT, SC - FEBRUARY 10: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich talks to an overflow crowd outside of Finn's Brick Oven Pizza February 10, 2016 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. The South Carolina Republican primary will be held Saturday, February 20. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
11/3/95 - Rep. John R. Kasich (R-OH), seated 2nd from left, and Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) in the dark suit standing, go over their response to President Clinton's radio address just prior to recording the radio broadcast in the Senate studio. Kasich was casually dressed as the House was out of session for the weekend. (Photo by Robert A. Reeder/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, holds the Republican budget plan during a debate with Budget Director Alice Rivlin, Thursday Oct. 19, 1995 at the National Press Club in Washington. Kasich said that the Republicans have a deal to balance the budget in seven years and will not wait to balance any longer. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, points to his head during a Capitol Hill news conference Thursday Nov. 16, 1995 to discuss the federal budget impasse. Earlier, President Clinton pledged to veto the latest Republican attempt to end the three-day-old partial federal shutdown, dismissing the GOP measure as "an exercise of political power." (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
U.S. Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, flashes the victory sign as he walks with his new bride, Karen Waldbillig, down the steps of St. John's Episcopal Church in Worthington, Ohio, after the couple exchanged wedding vows Saturday, March 22, 1997. Kasich and Waldbillig, who had been dating for eight years, plan to build a home in Delaware County. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Ellis)
D:\BOB\budget3.tif - slug: NA/BUDGET date: May 2, 1997 photog: Robert A. Reeder TWP The Rotunda of the Capitol description: GOP happy with their signed budget John R. Kasich (R-OH) is having a particularly good time during the GOP announcement of a new budget in the Rotunda of the Capitol. In front of him is Speaker Newt Gingrich. (Photo by Robert A. Reeder/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, left, shakes hands with Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., during the announcement of the budget Friday, May 2, 1997, at the Capitol. Trading combat for compromise, President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders announced agreement Friday on a plan to balance the budget while bestowing tax breaks on families, investors and students. (AP Photo/Joe Marquette)
As his wife Karen, left, watches, U.S. Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, stops in for a haircut by Joe Swiezynski in Milford, N.H. Monday Feb. 15, 1999. Kashich is on a two-day campaign swing through New Hampshire seeking support for his presidential bid in the nation's earliest presidential priamry scheduled for about a year from now. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Presidential hopeful Sen. John Kasich, R-Ohio, center, rides a dog sled Sunday, March 14, 1999, on Lake Winnepesaukee in Laconia, N.H. Kasich participated in the World Championship Sled Dog Derby award ceremony and is in the state looking for support for his run for president in 2000. (AP Photo/Joel Page)
John Kasich, Republican Congressman from Ohio and presidential hopeful, makes a point during an interview on a stop on a campaign swing through Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 30, 1999. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
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US Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (2nd L) waves alongside Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman (L) and Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) during a campaign stop at Tom's Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville, Ohio, on August 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)
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Planned Parenthood immediately fired back to the news, as the organization's president Cecile Richards claimed the bill will "have devastating consequences for women across Ohio."

"It's clear Kasich has no regard for women's health or lives, and will stop at nothing to block health care for the tens of thousands of Ohioans who rely on Planned Parenthood," she said in a statement.

Kasich was repeatedly asked about the issue of Planned Parenthood at his town halls across New Hampshire throughout the summer, fall and winter, and consistently told audiences that he doesn't believe government funding should go to the organization because he says they "discredited" themselves, and adds that he favors funding for women's health through other means.

See photos of protests for and against Planned Parenthood

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Governor John Kasich signs Ohio bill to cut Planned Parenthood funding
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocate Linda Heilman prays during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women's access to reproductive health care on ``National Pink Out Day'' at Los Angeles City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women's access to reproductive health care on ``National Pink Out Day'' at Los Angeles City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocate Linda Heilman (L) prays during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocates block 4th St. N.E. during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 16: Protesters hold signs protesting Planned Parenthood in front of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition urged the Republican leadership not to give taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Anti-abortion activists demonstrate near a Planned Parenthood clinic Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. The protestors are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
An opponent and supporter of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Kathy Calver adjusts signs she placed on her shoes as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson attends a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Director of Planned Parenthood of Utah Karrie Galloway speaks during Sex, Politics And Film Hosted By Lena Dunham And Planned Parenthood Action Fund - 2015 Park City at Wahso Asian Grill on January 25, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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"The fact is that Governor Kasich has been a strong advocate for women's health issues by helping 260,000 women gain access to health care coverage, pledging a 3-1 state match for a fund for breast and cervical cancer screenings, strengthening programs for sexual assault prevention, funding rape crisis centers for the first time in Ohio's history, helping more women get access to childcare and protecting women from human trafficking," his spokesman Joe Andrews said in a statement.

"The state, through the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has at least 150 other sub-grantees and contractors for the affected grants and projects addressing such issues as infant mortality, violence against women, and minority HIV/AIDS. ODH will reallocate funding from ineligible providers under the new law to other currently eligible providers, ranging from local health departments and community organizations to hospitals and universities."

It was suspected that Kasich might sign the bill before the South Carolina primary, in the hopes that the move would help him there, but instead he signed it one day after finishing with about 8 percent, near the bottom of the pack in the state.

As the bill moved to Kasich's office while he campaigned across South Carolina, the governor's events were interrupted by protesters in Bluffton, Fort Mill, and Mt. Pleasant, who each shouted, "Governor Kasich, why do you hate women's health?"

Kasich responded to each interruption the same way, remarking "as a kid who went to college in 70s, if I don't see a good protest, I ain't living."

"Give 'em a round of applause, they are allowed to come in and scream," he added when he was interrupted at his election eve rally aboard the USS Yorktown off Mt. Pleasant.

The women who interrupted him in Bluffton on Wednesday work for Planned Parenthood, and one of them was from Kasich's home state.

"I'm from the state of Ohio and I'm a little disappointed that Governor Kasich is cutting off preventative health care services from tens of thousands of women in the state of Ohio," said Emma Akpan, a Planned Parenthood field organizer, who was one of three protesters at the event who held signs saying "Who pays for cancer treatment?" "Can I get birth control at the dentist?" and "Why do you hate women's health??"

"The fact that Governor Kasich is cutting off this funding — he is hurting women in Ohio," she added.

Responding to the protesters in Bluffton, Kasich told his crowd, "We are not cutting off women's health and we're not going to fund Planned Parenthood 'cause they put themselves in this pickle.

"What we're gonna do is make sure that women's health will get funding," he said. "I do not mind when young people feel passionately about something. It's a lot better than seeing them on these electronic devices and all that kind of stuff."

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