COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio was among four states that witnessed the largest decline in abortions following the downfall of Roe v. Wade, a new study suggests.
In the six months since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Constitution didn’t guarantee the right to an abortion, Ohio abortion providers performed an estimated 4,290 fewer abortions – the fourth-largest drop in the country, trailing behind Texas (15,540 fewer), Georgia (10,930 fewer) and Tennessee (6,560 fewer), according to a new Society of Family planning report.
“However, not all of these states had abortion bans … states that lack bans but that do impose a variety of restrictions on abortions witnessed far fewer abortions in the months after the Dobbs decision compared to prior months,” the study said.
The study does not account for self-managed abortions obtained outside the formal healthcare system.
The sharpest decline in Ohio abortions occurred from June to July, coinciding with the reinforcement of the state’s near-total abortion ban, also called the “heartbeat bill.” Once Attorney General Dave Yost motioned a court to reinstate the law, abortion became illegal in Ohio the moment fetal cardiac activity could be detected, typically during the sixth week of pregnancy.
About 1,810 abortions were performed in Ohio in June, dropping to an estimated 800 in July – a 55% decline in the procedure, according to the study.
The month of August saw the fewest estimated abortions, 770, but the procedure gradually became more frequent in September, when Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the state’s six-week ban. Jenkins’ ruling returned Ohio’s abortion laws to the previous status quo: legal up to 20 weeks' gestation.
Despite the Hamilton County decision, abortions obtained from September to December have yet to return to their levels before the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson was released. The study attributes that, in part, to the back-and-forth nature of court challenges to the state’s abortion law.
“These laws and legal battles may have contributed to confusion about the legality of abortion, losses of providers, and/or declines in the number of abortions,” the study said.
Dr. Adarsh Krishen, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of Great Ohio, echoed the study and said both patients and physicians are very confused about their options for abortion care.
"Because the laws are constantly changing, patients and physicians don’t know what services are available to them," said Krishen. "Nevertheless, PPGOH is dedicated to patient-centered care and try to clearly share options patients have when seeking medical services."
As Ohio, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia saw fewer abortion procedures, other states with less-restrictive abortion laws saw the opposite trend, the study found. States with the largest increase in abortions during the six months post-Dobbs include Florida (7,190 more), Illinois (6,840 more), North Carolina (4,730 more), Colorado (2,580 more) and Michigan (2,490).
An August survey conducted by Ohio Policy Evaluation Network found that of the nearly 400 Ohioans who traveled out-of-state for abortion most frequently went to Michigan (33%) and Illinois (32%).
However, “when viewing the changes in provision across the region, it is clear the increases in less restrictive states post-Dobbs were insufficient to make up for the decreases seen at facilities in less restrictive states,” the study said.