COLUMBUS, November 15, 2012, ( – Ohio’s pro-life governor is taking flak after appointing one of the state’s top pro-life leaders to its medical board.

Governor John R. Kasich appointed Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, as a consumer member on the 12-person board for a five-year term on October 29.

Abortion advocates, led by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, are calling the appointment an “attack” on women and warning that the board could deny licenses to health care professionals who support abortion.


Gonidakis “doesn’t bring anything new except for that single-minded, extremist perspective,” Rick Pender, vice president of development and external affairs for Planned Parenthood in the Southwest Ohio region, told “What does he add to a board that deals with the certification of physicians?”

But Gonidakis, an attorney of 13 years with experience in health care law who previously served as a senior deputy attorney general, said he’s there to represent consumers. Planned Parenthood is wrong to suggest the medical board sets abortion policy, he said, insisting it focuses on regulation and licensure issues.

“It’s the same old tired talking points from Planned Parenthood,” Gonidakis told He said he applied for the position with the hope to offer his talents to the state and “the governor, being pro-life, thought that I would be a good fit.”

State media claim the appointment is “adding fuel to an already volatile debate” on abortion in the state as the Republican-controlled legislature considers two bills on abortion: to defund Planned Parenthood, and the “Heartbeat Bill,” which would prohibit abortionists from killing a preborn child from the moment a heartbeat can be detected.

Governor Kasich “not only talks the talk but walks the walk” on pro-life issues, Gonidakis told LifeSiteNews. “He is deeply committed to the pro-life movement [and] has signed more pro-life laws in his first two years than the two previous governors” in their combined tenures.

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The governor’s pro-life bona fides could perhaps be measured by his office’s response to the criticism. Spokesman Rob Nichols told that the appointment should not have come as a surprise. “The governor believes strongly in the sanctity of human life,” Nichols said. “So, what is surprising here is that someone could be surprised that he’s a governor that practices what he preaches.”

Gonidakis joins fellow pro-life advocate Laurie Elsass, another consumer member who serves on the board of trustees for Ohio Right to Life.


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