Butler County reacts to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

Federal abortion protections fall by 6-3 decision

The Supreme Court ended the constitutional protections of a woman’s ability to get an abortion after a 6-3 decision following party lines; thus handing total legislative control of abortion over to states.

Ohio has made several legislative steps in recent years to further restrict abortion access, including the passage of a 2019 “heartbeat bill” that was eventually blocked due to Roe v. Wade’s federal precedent.

Among the Ohio public, adults are almost evenly split, with 48 percent of polled Ohioans generally supporting abortion rights and 47 percent generally opposing, according to PEW Research Center. Fifty percent of Ohio women generally support abortion rights while 45 percent generally oppose.

Former State Rep. Candice Keller, executive director of the Community Pregnancy Center in Middletown and a proponent of Ohio’s heartbeat bill, said she was “absolutely beyond excited” when she heard the news. She told the Journal-News that she was in a grocery store parking lot this morning when she started crying, and those tears continued in the store.

I still can’t believe it,” Keller said. “People are tired of killing the unborn.”

Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio said in a statement that this decision will force Ohioans to leave the state for abortion access.

“By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives,” the organization said.

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, who represents Hamilton, Fairfield and Springfield in Ohio’s 8th District, celebrated on Twitter after the “long overdue” ruling.

“This court case is not the end of our efforts to protect the right to life, but it finally empowers them,” Davidson said. “It is now on states, and elected officials across the country, to pass laws that protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us.”

State Rep. Jennifer Gross, R–West Chester Twp., said, “Life won today. I’m excited to be in the state legislature where it really matters. This is the human rights issue of our generation.”

In a press conference after the decision, Kersha Deibel, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, said Ohioans had already lost significant access to abortion services before today’s ruling.

“In 1982, there were 55 abortion providers operating in the state of Ohio, and now there are only eight,” Deibel said.

The region is home to two of the state’s abortion providers: Women’s Med Center of Dayton and Cincinnati’s Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio.

Associate Professor Danielle Bessett, a University of Cincinnati researcher who helps lead the Ohio Policy Evaluation Network (OPEN), said looming restrictions on abortion in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana will potentially overload the out-of-state abortion providers that are then asked to meet an increased demand.

Additionally, Bessett said that overturning Roe brings uncertainty for uncommon medical services that involve terminating pregnancies, such as selective reduction or cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

“It’s really important to look at the ways in which abortion clinics are going to be affected by this change,” Bessett said. “And it’s also really important to understand that this is so potentially far reaching that it could have implications for a host of different dimensions.”

State Rep. Sara Carruthers, R – Hamilton, said she has a pro-life record in the legislature and is working to understand the impact the decision will have on women’s health.

“It’s important that we fully understand the details of today’s decision and what steps may need to be taken at the Statehouse,” Curruthers told the Journal-News. “As we move forward, I want to make sure we are providing resources and support for women. I think it’s important [that] that’s part of the discussion.”

Bessett said many will turn to self-sourcing their abortions, and that a lack of in-state abortion options will likely result in an increase in maternal mortality as more pregnancies are carried to term.

“You’re going to have people in less safe situations even if they don’t seek to self-source their abortion,” Bessett said. “That has equity issues too… People who are poor — and black Ohioans — are much more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes.”

The pro-life organization Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati held a press conference to mark the ruling, where Executive Director Laura Strietmann said, “The court’s decision ends the injustice for preborn American citizens and it’s the beginning of respecting life in America, Ohio, and here in Cincinnati.”

[What does Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade mean for laws here?]

The most recent abortion data collected by the Ohio Department of Health shows that official induced-abortion frequency in the state has generally been trending downward for decades.

In 2020 — the most recent year on record — there were just under 20,000 official Ohio induced abortions, compared to a high of over 45,000 induced abortions in 1981.

In the region, Butler County had 545 official induced abortions in 2020, along with Hamilton (2,345); Montgomery (1,292); Warren (174); Greene (173) and Preble (15).

The report showed that 0.5 percent of Ohio abortions occurred after 20 weeks of gestation, while the percentage of abortions occurring in the first nine weeks of gestation trended upward.

Today’s overturn would allow Ohio’s 2019 heartbeat bill to take effect, which would effectively fully restrict women from getting an abortion after an average of five to six weeks of gestation.

In 2020, 61.8% of all Ohio abortions occurred before nine weeks of gestation, the lowest time frame tracked by the ODH.

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