Abortion rates in Ohio declined by 1 percent in 2015, reaching the lowest amount since 1976 with 20,976 documented abortions, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
“The abortion rate has been going down steadily for the past 25 years. Thankfully, I think it is due to better education on the fact that it is a human life someone is taking,” said Denise Leipold, executive director for Right to Life of Northeast Ohio.
The decline in abortions can be attributed to the improved accessibility to birth control such as the pill and IUDs; however, many pro-abortion rights activists believe there is danger in the restrictive legislation being passed by Ohio legislators.
“There’s two reasons why we’re seeing this drop. One is good, and one is bad,” said Gabriel Mann, communications manager for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “The good reason is that under Obamacare, women have had increased access to affordable contraceptives. No-cost birth control is a tremendous benefit that women across the country have been able to take advantage of through the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, some of the numbers of abortions dropped in Ohio because women have been denied access to abortions in Ohio.”
Since Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011, 17 pieces of legislation have been passed restricting reproductive rights in Ohio. The state has also gone from 16 abortion clinics to nine in the same time period.
“There’s a decent chance they’re going to try to enact a 20-week abortion ban here in the lame duck session here on election day through the end of 2016,” Mann said.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio mentioned in a press release that the decline could also be attributed to women going to Michigan to get abortions due to the closing of multiple Ohio clinics.
“I don’t think that is happening because the statistics don’t bear out,” Leipold said. “The clinics that are available are still open. Some of them are open and not obeying the laws.”
Michigan’s documented abortions have decreased from 27,629 in 2014 to 27,151 in 2015.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio has researched the impact of the restrictions on medicated abortion in Ohio.
“There is no medical benefit to some of the laws they put in place in 2011 to restrict how doctors prescribe mifepristone, the abortion pill,” Mann said.
The abortion discussion is prevalent across the nation, but it is especially noticeable on college campuses.
“We are getting a lot more youth involved.” Leipold said. “If you are a true pro-life person, you are not out there yelling and screaming; you’re out there advocating for self-respect or responsibility or teaching about life from conception to natural death…I think it is a pro-life generation.”
With the consistent decline in abortions year by year, it is expected that there will be more legislation seen both for and against abortion restriction.
“Looking forward, we would have the opportunity to improve women’s access to abortion care and improve their access to reproductive healthcare across the board,” Mann said.