The number of abortions performed in Ohio declined again in 2016, according to data released Friday by the Ohio Department of Health, continuing a trend of steady decline since the late 1990s.
But Ohio’s abortion rate and ratio to live births were both unchanged from 2015. That means that while the number of abortions went down, so too did the number of women of reproductive age in the state and the number of live births.
The abortion rate both years was 8.9 per 1,000 resident women ages 15-44 years old; the abortion ratio was 142 abortions per 1,000 live births.
MORE: Ohio’s 20-week abortion ban takes effect There were 20,672 abortions performed in Ohio in 2016, with 94.5 percent being obtained by women residing in Ohio. That’s about a 1 percent reduction in the number of abortions from 2015 to 2016. The state health department releases an annual Induced Abortions in Ohio report each September.
In a nutshell, here are some of the findings:
- 55 percent of all abortions were performed in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
- 2.2 percent occurred at 19 weeks or later.
- 61 percent of the women who had abortions were in their 20s.
- 63 percent already had at least one child.
“Our goal is to be at zero,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life and a member of the state Medical Board of Ohio, “But we want to be under 20,000 by next year.”
The anti-abortion group credited the decline in abortions to their efforts to shut down clinics throughout the state. Since taking office, Governor John Kasich has signed 18 restrictions on abortion clinics. The laws have resulted in the closing of half the clinics that were open when he took office.
“This report is further proof of how successful the pro-life movement has been in Ohio,” Gonidakis said.
RELATED: Women travel longer distances for abortions But NARAL ProChoice Ohio said the small decline is likely also due to a combination of better access to birth control through the Affordable Care Act and an overall decline in the number of Ohio women of childbearing age.
The number of abortions performed before nine weeks actually increased from 2015 to 2016 as did the number of medical, rather than surgical, abortions.
“The number of medication abortions increased over 300 percent,” said Jaime Miracle deputy director of NARAL ProChoice, “Ohio women are accessing more affordable, medication abortions.”
Ohio previously required doctors to follow a three-pill protocol for non-surgical abortions, but that changed in March 2016 when it began allowing a one-pill protocol that is standard in most states, Miracle said.
The Ohio Supreme Court recently heard two cases that could determine the fate of several Ohio abortion clinics.
The court heard arguments on Capital Care Network of Toledo versus the Ohio Department of Health on Sept. 12 and Preterm-Cleveland, Inc. versus Gov. John Kasich on Sept. 26.
Preterm is challenging the constitutionality of including abortion policy in a budget bill, saying that violates Ohio’s single-subject rule.
Capital Care Network is challenging the state’s decision to revoke its license when the clinic failed to arrange a transfer agreement with a local hospital. The decision in that case could impact the Dayton area’s only remaining abortion clinic Women’s Med Center, which is appealing to keep its state license after it also couldn’t get a transfer agreement or enough backup physicians for a variance.