The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 3, 2013

Ohio abortions rose in 2012, especially for blacks

By CATHERINE CANDISKY
The Columbus Dispatch

— The number of abortions performed in Ohio rose nearly 3 percent last year after more than a decade of decline.

Still, the 25,473 abortions performed in 2012 marked the second-lowest rate of pregnancy terminations since the state began tracking them in 1976.

The report released yesterday by the Ohio Department of Health showed a jump in the number of African-American women getting abortions and a drop among white women.

In addition, late-term abortions declined by nearly a third while use of the morning-after pill increased.

Not surprisingly, those on both sides of the abortion debate had vastly different takes on the significance of the findings.

“African-American women make up 8 percent of our state’s population, and yet (38 percent) of abortions were performed on African-American women. That’s alarming,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.

He blamed abortion providers who, he said, “strategically place their clinics in poor urban areas” and not suburbs or rural areas with lower minority populations.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said the figures underscore the challenges minority women face.

“Twenty-one percent of African-Americans have no health insurance, and their access to birth control is limited, so they have a higher rate of unintended pregnancies,” she said. “It’s lack of health care, it’s (low) income, there are so many factors of unintended pregnancies.”

In all, 9,694 black women had abortions in Ohio in 2012, up from 9,178 in 2011, an increase of 5.6 percent.

By contrast, 13,109 white women had the procedure last year, down 1.7 percent.

Gonidakis and Copeland also disagreed on the cause of a more than 30 percent drop in late-term abortions, which were outlawed by Ohio legislators in late 2011, except when the mother’s life is in danger.

Gonidakis credited the ban for the drop and questioned why it wasn’t higher. Copeland said she thinks Ohio women are still undergoing late-term abortions, but their doctors are sending them out of state to get them.

In 2012, 367 abortions were performed after 20 weeks of gestation; down from 525 in 2011.

The report found abortions to be a relatively safe procedure, with 47 women, or less than 1 percent, having complications, most often cervical lacerations.

The recent passage of sweeping anti-abortion provisions is expected to lead to a drop in abortions this year.

In addition to other moves, legislators essentially cut federal family-planning money to Planned Parenthood and required abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals while prohibiting publicly funded hospitals from signing such pacts, a move that has closed one clinic and threatens to shut down more.