Evangelical leader James Dobson is calling Ohio Gov. John Kasich's veto of a bill that would have banned abortions of fetuses with a detectable heartbeat a "cowardly and shameful action," stating that millions of Evangelicals and Catholics oppose his decision.
On Tuesday, Kasich, a former Republican candidate for president, signed into law a ban on abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Kasich also vetoed a more restrictive abortion ban that would have banned abortions at the point that a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into gestation.
Commenting on his reason for signing the 20-week ban but not the more restrictive legislation, Kasich said that the "heartbeat bill" is "clearly contrary" to the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion, while adding that the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is the "best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life."
Dobson, who is the founder of Focus on the Family and Family Talk radio, issued a statement on his website on Wednesday in response to Kasich's veto.
"I want to congratulate the Ohio legislature for passing the 'Heartbeat Bill' and I commend their commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of the unborn," Dobson wrote. "Now, I join with millions of Evangelicals and Catholics in condemning Gov. John Kasich's veto of the bill."
"This was a cowardly and shameful action," he continued. "Signing the bill would have been the constitutionally correct thing to do; it would have also been morally correct to do."
Dobson added that Kasich's veto shows that the governor is not "as committed to life as he professes to be." Dobson is also calling on pro-lifers to contact Kasich's office and express their dismay with his decision to veto the "heartbeat bill."
"For decades, we have fought for the rights of the unborn. We have not grown weary, we have never lost faith, and now there is a growing movement to finally reject the barbarism of abortion and to fully protect the rights of the unborn," Dobson added. "This bill was an important step in that direction, and we mustn't be silent in response to the Governor's action. This is the time to redouble all of our efforts nationwide until we will finally, fully win our fight for the rights of our nation's unborn children."
Although Dobson is critical of the governor's decision to veto the bill, the pro-life organization Ohio Right to Life has come out in support of Kasich's veto of the "heartbeat bill" and praised him for passing the 20-week ban.
"Given the current make-up of the United States Supreme Court, Governor Kasich got it right by embracing the strategic incremental approach to ending abortion," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in a statement. "Pro-life Ohioans are proud to have his support as a supermajority of Republicans and Democrats within the General Assembly voted to support the 20-week ban. At no time in our state's history have we had such protective pro-life laws, and we have Gov. Kasich and our pro-life legislature to thank."
"Ohio Right to Life supports Governor Kasich's decision to bypass the heartbeat legislative approach at this time," Gonidakis added. "While it must have been difficult, the current makeup of a radically pro-abortion Supreme Court required the governor to exercise great restraint. Further, filling the current vacancy on the Court by our next President will still leave the court with a pro-abortion majority."
Despite the concerns about the pro-abortion makeup of the United States Supreme Court, Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance said in a statement that Kasich should have signed the "heartbeat bill" anyways.
"Gov. John Kasich's decision to veto the heartbeat bill is extremely disappointing. We understand there are different approaches to advancing the pro-life cause, but many Ohioans worked extremely hard to pass this legislation," she stated. "Gov. Kasich should have signed this bill and let the judicial process play out. He tries to justify his decision by suggesting the legislation would not pass judicial scrutiny. However, it is not his role to act as a member of the judicial branch. It is a shame his veto casts a dark cloud over the victory of the 20-week ban in Ohio."
Kasich's signing of the pain-capable bill makes Ohio the 18th state to adopt a 20-week abortion ban. However, 20-week bans in Arizona and Idaho have been deemed unconstitutional by federal courts.