As court battles continue over legislation related to abortion, the Ohio Department of Health last week reported a 2% decline in the procedures.
The annual report gathered information about abortions occurring in the state from confidential abortion reports and “post-abortion care reports for complications.”
Last year, 20,102 “induced pregnancy terminations” were reported in Ohio, according to the report. Ohio residents represented 94.1% of those, but the total was part of a decrease that has continued for years.
“Overall, since 2001 there has been a steady decline in terminations,” the report stated, adding that the annual decline was an average of 960 abortions per year.
According to the data, 61% (12,257) of the abortions were at less than nine-weeks gestation, which was more than half of all abortions in 2019. More than 5,000 abortions (26.5%) were induced at nine to 12 weeks, followed by 2,168 at 13 to 18 weeks.
While there were 356 reported abortions reported at 19 or more weeks gestation, only one was found to be a viable pregnancy, according to the ODH.
Cuyahoga County had the highest rate of reported abortions, with 34.9%, followed by Franklin County at 19.6%, Hamilton County at 16.4% and Montgomery at 13.6%.
Six of nine women’s health clinics that perform medication abortions are in the Columbus, Cincinnati or Cleveland Area, according to the Ohio chapter of abortion advocacy group, NARAL Pro-Choice.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said the decrease is reflective of attacks by the Republican-led state legislature to reduce access to abortion.
“Ohioans need access to local abortion providers, and they need to make that message clear when they vote in this election,” said executive director Kellie Copeland.
Multiple bills passed by Ohio lawmakers are currently snarled by legal troubles. House Bill 214 banned abortions after a diagnosis of fetal Down Syndrome, Senate Bill 23, pushes a ban on abortion at six-weeks gestation, and Senate Bill 145 criminalizes abortion through the dilation and evacuation (D&E) method.
Copeland also noted a trend in non-surgical, medication abortion shown in the study.
The dual-medication abortion drug Mifepristone represented 7,774 abortions, with Misoprostol used in 1,119 and 13 terminated with Methotrexate.
“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,” Copeland said in a statement.
Copeland also credited access to contraception through the Affordable Care Act as a measure preventing unwanted pregnancies. The ACA is also a topic many say could come back up with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Opponents of abortion access should consider this and turn their focus on increasing birth control coverage rather than pushing bans on patients’ rights,” Copeland said.
Mike Gonidakis, director of anti-abortion lobby Ohio Right to Life, said the news was encouraging as discussion of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, begins anew with the potential confirmation of another conservative justice to the bench.
“In our lifetime we will end abortion in Ohio and we will no longer need an abortion report,” Gonidakis said in a statement.
Several other bills have been brought before the legislature regarding various elements of abortion.