Cleveland — The annual Induced Abortions in Ohio report was released from the Ohio Department of Health today. The total number of abortions in 2019 was 20,102. Of those, 18,913 were obtained by Ohioans. This constitutes a 2% decrease over 2018 when there were 20,425 abortions. The previous rate of change was a 2.3% drop from 2017 to 2018.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “Twenty-thousand people in Ohio decided that abortion was right for them in 2019 despite the relentless attacks on abortion access by our gerrymandered anti-abortion legislature. Republicans in the Statehouse are hell bent on banning abortion in our state. What will happen to patients who need abortion care if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the court and allowed to overturn or gut Roe v. Wade? What will happen to these Ohioans if Mike DeWine and his cronies pass a new ’trigger ban’ to cut-off abortion access? Why do any of these politicians think they should be the decider for a patient in need of care? Ohioans need access to local abortion providers, and they need to make that message clear when they vote in this election.”

Copeland continued, “The most notable change in this year’s report is a continuing trend toward medication abortion. Patients prefer being able to access abortion earlier in pregnancy and I am glad to see that more patients have been able to do so. FDA changes in 2016 that overrode medically unnecessary restrictions on accessing medication abortion services in Ohio, as well as advancements by providers in our state to increase access, including the use of telemedicine no doubt played an important role in making medication abortion more accessible in our state.”

The 2019 numbers are in line with a gradual decline in abortion over the last five years. Because of the increase in access to affordable contraception through the Affordable Care Act, many Ohioans have been able to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Opponents of abortion access should consider this and turn their focus on increasing birth control coverage rather than pushing bans on patients’ rights.

Additional background

How many clinics are there in Ohio, and what do they offer?
Ohio has nine clinics offering medication abortion. This number has held steady even as the specific clinics servicing patients has changed. Of the nine total clinics, six providers have ambulatory surgical facility licenses from the state and offer in-clinic procedures.

What restrictions are in effect right now?
Ohio has a 24 hour waiting period for patients. Clinics are required to have a transfer agreement signed by a local, privately owned hospital. Multiple restrictions impact the ways patients can use insurance to pay for their own abortion care. Minors seeking judicial permission for abortion access face artificial barriers. Ohio has a 20-week abortion ban and a post-viability (~24 weeks) abortion ban in effect. NONE of these restrictions are medically necessary or improve care for patients.

What effect have current restrictions had?
Any abortion restriction that makes it more difficult for a patient to access care is the “most extreme” restriction for that patient. If a patient cannot afford travel costs or child care expenses so they can go to two appointments required by the 24 hour waiting period, then that restriction is what’s banning abortion for them. The same can be said for any of the current restrictions in place for Ohio.

What restrictions are pending in courts?
The three restrictions most likely to impact patient access in the immediate future are the Down syndrome abortion ban (House Bill 214, 132nd Ohio General Assembly, Preterm-Cleveland Et Al. v. Himes Et Al.), the abortion method ban (Senate Bill 145, 132nd Ohio General Assembly, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region v. Yost) and the six-week abortion ban (Senate Bill 23, 133rd Ohio General Assembly. Preterm, Et Al. v. Yost, Et Al.). Both bills have been temporarily stopped by courts. ACLU of Ohio has a helpful tracker on Ohio legislation.

What effect would those restrictions have if enacted?
All of these restrictions were passed with the goal of closing every abortion clinic in Ohio. By banning abortion directly (S.B. 23), banning a common and safe abortion procedure (SB 145), or hiding an abortion ban behind a bill that purports to advocate for the disabled (H.B. 214), Republicans in Ohio have put their agenda between a patient and her doctor. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have harmed our federal courts to the point where Ohioans can no longer have faith in the judicial branch to protect their rights. Ohioans must restore a pro-choice majority in the Ohio House, Senate, and Ohio Supreme Court to protect their access to abortion care.

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