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Number of abortions goes up in Ohio

Ohio saw a 2.8 percent increase last year in the number of abortions performed, which marks the first uptick in a dozen years, according to a state Department of Health report released Tuesday.

Last year, 25,473 abortions were performed in Ohio, compared with 24,764 in 2011. The overall trend line shows abortion has been steadily declining over the past 15 years in Ohio. And abortions in Ohio peaked in 1982 when more than 45,000 were performed.

The report, which is required by state law, collects information from confidential reports from women who terminate their pregnancies.

The stats indicate that women who are young, single, uneducated and already mothers are most likely to choose abortion. The report shows that 57 percent of the abortions were performed at less than nine weeks into the pregnancy, 77 percent of the women were unmarried, 47.5 percent of the women were younger than 25-years-old, 56 percent of them had a 12th-grade education or less, 62.3 percent already had one or more children, and 42 percent were African-American.

“Abortions in the white community are going down. Abortions in the black community are going up. It is an absolute tragedy that we continue to see spikes in the African American community,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.

The report said that 15,026 women reported that they had had one or more prior abortions and 14,446 said they were not using any contraceptives at the time they got pregnant.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said 14 percent of white Ohioans are uninsured while 21 percent of blacks are uninsured. “You can’t look at these abortion numbers without looking at access to health care. They are absolutely related.”

Copeland criticized the anti-abortion community for fighting against comprehensive sex education policies and improved access to contraceptives — two essential tools in the fight against unintended pregnancies.

Hundreds of Ohioans are expected to rally at the Statehouse on Wednesday to protest new abortion restrictions lawmakers have put in place. In the past year, Ohio has adopted the following new regulations:

* Requiring physicians to administer ultrasounds before abortions are performed and inform patients of the chances that their fetuses can be brought to term;

* Prioritizing distribution of federal family planning money so that Planned Parenthood and other clinics are at the end of the line;

* Giving state funding to crisis pregnancy centers, which oppose abortion;

* Boosting state money to rape crisis centers but only if they do not counsel women on abortion options.

Most of these changes came too late to have an impact on the 2012 data. But restrictions adopted in 2011 — particularly a ban on abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor deems the fetus viable — appear to have pushed the numbers.

In 2010 there were 629 abortions performed after 20 weeks gestation, compared with 367 in 2012 — a 41.6 percent decline.

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