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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

New study shows most Ohioans who want an abortion won't be able to get one under new ban

[Kichigin, Shutterstock.com /  ]

A new study shows nearly nine out of 10 Ohioans who got abortions here in the state during the past couple of years wouldn’t be able to get them now.

Ohio’s new law bans abortion at the point fetal activity can be detected, around six weeks into a pregnancy. It was put into effect the same day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that allowed abortion nationwide.

Abigail Norris Turner, an Ohio State University professor of medicine, said she and other researchers conducted a study of people who got abortions at health clinics between April 2020 to April 2021. She said a quarter of the women who got abortions during that time period didn’t know they were pregnant until six weeks or later. Of that group, she said most were low-income or had a low-level of educational attainment.

And she said those two factors are important.

“Lack of income and lack of education are two of the reasons people give for seeking abortion," Norris Turner said. "People will often say they want to be in a better financial position before they have children or they want to finish their education before they have children. And so what we learned in this study is that those same factors that are associated with choosing abortion, in Ohio, were also associated with not knowing you are pregnant until after six weeks.”

But Norris Turner said even though 75% of Ohioans who knew they were pregnant before they were six weeks into a pregnancy would still not be able to obtain an abortion in Ohio now under the state’s new law.

“Eighty-nine percent of abortions in this study happened after six weeks," Norris Turner said. "So even people who learned early, before six weeks, that they are pregnant, there are a lot of things that have to happen to get an abortion before six weeks. You have to learn you are pregnant, decide you want an abortion, call a clinic, schedule a visit, do an in-person counseling visit, wait at least the 24-hour mandatory waiting period and then come back for the abortion visit. And so, that’s a lot to do within a very short period of time.”

Norris Turner said that on average women in the study were about eight weeks into a pregnancy when they received abortions.

 Gestational chart for abortions completed in Ohio in 2020 [Ohio Abortion Report /  Ohio Dept of Health]

The 2020 Ohio Abortion Report, the latest year for which abortion data is available, shows 62.3% of abortions were performed under nine weeks of gestation. Another 25.4% were performed between nine and 12 weeks. That means 87.7% of the abortions recorded in 2020 were performed at or before the end of the first trimester of pregnancy.

In 2020, 113 of the 20,605 abortions performed in Ohio were at or past 20 weeks of gestation. In 2017, Ohio’s 20-week abortion ban was put in place. It allowed an exception for the life of the mother so that should have been a factor in those 113 cases. Abortions are not allowed in Ohio today under the new, stricter ban except to protect the life of the mother or to prevent permanent impairment of the person's organs.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.