COLUMBUS, Ohio - With John Kasich on his way out as governor and Mike DeWine heading in, supporters of reproductive rights are gearing up for a new battle in Ohio.
During his last month in office, Kasich vetoed a six-week abortion ban known as the heartbeat bill. But he signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, banning a common method used as early as 12 weeks into a pregnancy.
Gabriel Mann with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said there were 16 abortion clinics in Ohio when Kasich came into office, and now that number has been cut in half. Looking at his record and past statements, Mann expects DeWine to be as extreme - or more so - on abortion.
"He said he would sign a six-week abortion ban, completely disregarding the unconstitutional nature of the bill," Mann said. "He's made false allegations against Planned Parenthood and other providers. He's used the office of attorney general to investigate Planned Parenthood."
A last-minute attempt to override Kasich's veto of the six-week ban fell one vote short in the Senate. Republican state Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said the bill has a better chance of passing and gaining DeWine's approval during the next General Assembly, scheduled to convene today.
Republicans hold supermajorities in both the State House and Senate.
But Mann said public support for legal access to abortions is high. A poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal in 2018 found more than 70 percent of American voters believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned - the highest level of support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision since the poll began in 2005.
Mann said his organization isn't waiting around to see what happens in the General Assembly, and is engaging supporters now.
"We're trying to help those citizens speak out and let their elected officials understand that they don't want these rights blocked," he said. "Once a woman's made a decision to have an abortion, she deserves access to safe, legal care that she can afford in her own community."
Governor-elect DeWine will assume office on January 14.
Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.