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Are Ohio Abortion Laws Forcing Women to Cross State Lines?

PHOTO: Ohio is said to be among the most restrictive states for abortion laws, with low-income women  impacted the most. photo credit: morgue file/grietgriet.
PHOTO: Ohio is said to be among the most restrictive states for abortion laws, with low-income women impacted the most.
photo credit: morgue file/grietgriet.
March 27, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Advocates for reproductive rights say it is becoming increasingly difficult for women in Ohio to obtain an abortion.

There are reports of women crossing the state line to find a clinic, according to Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, noting recent changes in law.

Clinics in Ohio are now required to obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital for patients needing emergency treatment.

Nash points out that public hospitals are prohibited from entering into such agreement.

"There have been a number of clinics that have shut down, particularly in the Toledo area, and as a result women have had to travel much further to access abortion care,” she relates. “They haven't been able to get it close to home."

Three abortion clinics have shut down in the past year, leaving Ohio with 11 facilities.

Nash says other policies in Ohio require counseling and a 24-hour waiting period, and most women will need to undergo an ultrasound.

Supporters say the measures are needed to promote safety, and anti-abortion groups maintain the changes have led many women to change their minds about the procedure.

Nash says Ohio is one of the most restrictive states in the country when it comes to abortion, and those who are poor are most affected.

"They may be working a minimum wage job or shift work where it's really hard to rearrange their schedule,” she says. “They may have to access child care and they may also have to rearrange other logistical issues such as travel – women may not have a car."

Additionally, there are new restrictions on family planning providers' eligibility for state and federal funding.

But Nash says in order to reduce abortion, there needs to be more money for family planning to help prevent unplanned pregnancies.

"Banning abortion or restricting abortion doesn't do much when a woman is facing an unintended pregnancy,” she maintains. “What we want to do is reduce those unintended pregnancies. That is the best way to reduce the abortion rate."

Meanwhile, the controversial heartbeat bill that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected was introduced again at the Statehouse, but there are reports from Senate leaders that it is not a priority and will not move out of committee.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH