Abortions continue to decline in Ohio

New report shows total is lowest in at least 40 years.

Fewer abortions were performed in Ohio in 2015 than at any time since the state began keeping records in 1976, according to an Ohio Department of Health report.

The annual report, released Friday, shows that the steady decline that has been occurring over the past 15 years continued in 2015, with a slight drop to 20,976 abortions reported in the state.

The declines can be partially attributed to changes in recent years that have made getting abortions exceedingly more difficult in Ohio. Since 2010, the state has enacted 17 new restrictions and half of the state’s clinics have now closed.

Among the restrictions:

  • A ban on abortions after 20 weeks gestation;
  • A prohibition on abortions in public hospitals;
  • A mandate that clinics have emergency transfer agreements with local hospitals;
  • And a requirement that patients receive an ultrasound and counseling before the procedure.

“Thanks to our pro-life legislative strategy and the grassroots advocacy work of our local affiliates, we are making an impact,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, in a written statement. “In one year, we have seen more than 200 lives saved from the pain of abortion. In the last five years, we’ve seen more than 7,000 saved. That is the incremental strategy to end abortion in action.”

Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said the new restrictions are forcing women to travel to Michigan for abortions and wait longer into their pregnancies to seek care.

“These restrictions are not about improving women’s health,” she said. “They’re about restricting women’s access to abortion.”

Of the 20,976 women who had abortions last year, 4,530 reported using contraception and 12,733 reported using none. Contraceptive data was not recorded for another 3,713 women.

The women getting abortions are likely to be single, early in their pregnancies, under age 30 and without a college degree, according to the report. Just over 60 percent reported that they already had at least one child. African American women were over-represented, making up 44 percent of those seeking abortions.

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