Abortion ban could impact LGBTQ+ community

By: - October 7, 2022 5:00 am

LGBTQ+ Pride flags | Photo by Susan J. Demas/Michigan Advance/States Newsroom.

Potential abortion bans in the nation and in Ohio have been criticized by various groups, from doctors, to religious leaders and legal officials. The impact of bans on reproductive health procedures is also being felt within the LGBTQ community.

“It just sucks all around,” said Kathryn Poe, a public policy and digital communications manager with Equality Ohio.’

Poe said the stigma surrounding trans and non-binary folks is already present, even in the health care field, where gender-affirming care can be hard to come by despite it being essential to individuals identities.

“Abortion care and good reproductive health care are a part of a good gender-affirming care,” Poe said.

In a report by the Center on Reproductive Health, Law and Policy and the Williams Institute at UCLA, researchers reviewed the implications of the Dobbs decision – the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade – on LGBTQ people who can get pregnant.

The study found that lesbian, bisexual and queer women who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth (called cisgender) are “statistically as likely to have abortions in their lifetime as straight cisgender women.”

Self-identified bisexual women aged 15 to 44 have greater odds of unwanted pregnancy, about 1.75 times greater than heterosexual peers, according to the study.

“It is essential to consider the unique and significant impacts on LGBTQ people who can get pregnant…in discussions about the harm caused by the rollback of abortion and sexual and reproductive health care access across the country,” the report stated.

The study also found that lesbians, bisexual and queer cisgender women, along with transgender people assigned as women at birth “are less likely than their straight cisgender peers to have had cancer screenings, such as Pap smears or mammograms.”

Poe said concerns about getting health care in safe ways are “real conversations happening in doctor’s offices across the state,” and it comes as no surprise that LGBTQ people would be at high risk for cancers, because many aren’t comfortable going to the doctor for their gender identity.

“Not every OB/GYN is a safe space for trans folks,” Poe said.

The fact that Ohio lacks standards for sexual education just adds to the impact of health care regulations that cut short the ability for LGBTQ people to live as they choose, according to Poe.

So, too, does any potential legislation regarding bodily autonomy of any kind, according to Poe.

“People (in Ohio) are realizing that if they want to get comprehensive, good quality health care, they may have to get it somewhere else,” Poe said.

Measures LGBTQ individuals feel are working against their well-being include House Bill 454 – a bill that has not passed in the Ohio General Assembly – which Republican co-sponsors state Rep. Gary Click and Rep. Diane Grendell are calling the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act.”

The bill seeks to prohibit gender-affirming care for minors in Ohio, and has been rebuked by LGBTQ groups.

Though Click admitted he hadn’t spoke to trans groups before pushing the measure in the GA, children’s hospitals have spoken out against these efforts, saying no health care happens to minors at their facilities without a parent or guardians consent.

“Even the introduction of these bills is harmful,” Poe said. “It adds to the stigma and it creates fears in the people targeted by them.”

Hindering access to reproductive health, including abortion care, is just “adding to the dumpster fire,” they said.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.