New report shows impact of abortion restrictions
A dip in Ohio's abortion numbers over the course of 2022 directly correlated to changes in access, per a new report from the Society of Family Planning.
Why it matters: The data is the first to illustrate how last year's court decisions nationally and locally impacted Ohioans' abortion rights.
- The rapid changes are "creating confusion and abortion care churn," the report states.
By the numbers: Last year, there were 11% fewer abortions in December than in April, per an analysis by Axios’ Jacque Schrag, even though abortion before 22 weeks was legal in both months.
Catch up quick: Ohio averaged nearly 2,000 monthly abortions leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24.
- The Dobbs decision led to an immediate statewide policy change — the enactment of a previously blocked "heartbeat law" that made abortion illegal beyond about six weeks of pregnancy.
- Ohio's monthly average sharply dropped to about 850 with the new restriction in place.
Yes, but: Abortions have slowly increased since a state judge halted enforcement of that law on Sept. 14, once again making the procedure legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
- The average was over 1,500 abortions per month through the rest of 2022.
What they're saying: "It is a really important example of the enduring impact … the numbers don't bounce back," report co-chair Alison Norris, an associate professor with Ohio State's College of Public Health, tells Axios.
The other side: The group Ohio Right to Life, which is campaigning against a proposed constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights, acknowledges that dynamic as well.
- "The truth is that laws absolutely affect the behaviors of society," spokesperson Elizabeth Marbach tells Axios in an email.
What we're watching: Ohio's 22-week abortion ban remains in effect for now as legal challenges are ongoing.
- Two advocacy groups are gathering signatures for the abortion rights amendment they hope to place on November's statewide ballot, while state Republicans move to raise the bar for such an amendment's passage.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will likely need to decide soon whether abortion pills — currently used in over half of U.S. abortions — can remain legal nationally, Axios' Sam Baker reports.
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