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Understanding The Drop In Abortions In Ohio

kentucky abortion
Ann Thompson
Last August, WHAM: Women's Health Advocacy Media Group and others who oppose abortion stood outside the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, following Kentucky's appeal of a lower court decision that kept the state's only abortion clinic open.

In the last decade, the number of abortions in Ohio has decreased by about 7,000 a year, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Health. A University of Cincinnati researcher is trying to understand the impact of abortion regulations in Ohio and thinks the drop in abortions could be one.

Credit Courtesy of University of Cincinnati
Michelle McGowan is trying to understand the barriers those seeking an abortion face in Ohio.

Research Associate ProfessorMichelle McGowanin the departments of pediatrics and women's gender and sexuality studies, says over the past decade there have been more than 15 changes to the law regulating abortion.

She and the Ohio Policy Evaluation Network (OPEN)are trying to understand what the downstream implications of those regulations have been for Ohioans.

McGowan finds abortion access in Ohio has become a lot more cumbersome. "More than half of surgical abortion clinics in the state have closed or have changed to only offer medication abortions and that has meant for people who are seeking abortion they have fewer options about where they can access care."

The New England Journal of Medicine published their research Wednesday, which looked into how complicated abortion care has become in Ohio.

So What Is Causing The Drop?

McGowan wonders, "Does it mean more people are having kids? Does it mean they are seeking abortions in other locations?" Because of the Affordable Care Act, she also says contraception has become more available nationwide.

She's now collaborating with other states to figure out if women are traveling some distance to have an abortion. Going forward she says it's important for the courts to understand what regulations are too burdensome for patients.

McGowan also thinks moving abortions to some hospitals might be the answer. "Abortion care needs to be understood as part of a broader spectrum of reproductive health care across the lifespan and be integrated more broadly into other settings that provide reproductive health care like hospitals and private practices," she says.

Danielle Besset at the University of Cincinnati and Alison Norris of the Ohio State University are co-authors on the study.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.