The attorney for Ronald Phillips said his client wished “to do something good.” His appeals exhausted, his execution for the rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl just days away, Phillips asked that he be allowed to donate organs to his mother or others awaiting transplants.
Initially, the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction rejected his request, arguing, reasonably, the hour was late and that it wasn’t equipped for such a procedure. Soon, John Kasich chose to explore what he called “a bit of uncharted territory.” The governor granted a temporary stay, allowing time to see whether Phillips’ nonvital organs could be harvested.
The governor has been thoughtful in his handling of death penalty cases. This episode fits the pattern, Kasich explaining that “if another life can be saved by his willingness to donate his organs then we should allow for that to happen.”
Phillips’ mother suffers from kidney disease. Others may benefit from his lungs, or liver, or bone marrow. None of this diminishes the ghastly crimes Phillips committed. His execution has been rescheduled for next July. Yet even in such dark circumstances, the hope is that something redeeming may surface. In that way, the governor’s thinking about his decision makes sense.
John Kasich easily could have let the original decision of the department stand. Yet he has revealed a penchant for the unconventional. No other state has taken this precise path. The likelihood now is that Ohio won’t be the last.