Abortion restrictions increase later abortions, according to a study that looked at trends in Ohio abortions as the state enacted more restrictive abortion regulations. An earlier study published in 2019 arrived at a similar conclusion, finding that Texas abortion regulations increased second-trimester abortions.
Later abortions are more expensive and complex, sometimes requiring a two-day procedure. By increasing later abortions, abortion bans may increase abortion complications and endanger pregnant people’s lives.
How Ohio’s Abortion Rules Changed Abortion
The latest study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, tracked abortion trends in Ohio between 2010 and 2018. During this period, anti-choice legislators enacted more than 15 anti-abortion laws. During the study period, abortion rates declined in Ohio at similar rates to the rest of the nation. This suggests that abortion restrictions do not lower the abortion rate. However, researchers noted several other trends, including:
- Ohioans began having abortions later in pregnancy than people in the rest of the United States.
- Early abortion rates decreased, suggesting that women delayed seeking abortion care.
- Abortion access declined in rural areas. Unintended pregnancies are often more common in rural regions because of decreased access to contraception.
Taken together, the findings suggest that abortion restrictions change the way women seek abortion but do not affect the overall abortion rate.
During this Supreme Court term, the Court will issue an opinion on a Louisiana abortion regulation that could close down almost all of the clinics in that state. If the Court rules in favor of the state, upholding the regulation, Ohio is poised to enact a similar regulation that might further constrain abortion access and close abortion clinics.
The War on Women’s Lives
Anti-choicers love to hold up signs of “babies.” You’ll never see them show the human toll of abortion restrictions—the financial hardships, the increased abortion complications, the botched self-induced abortions.
Restrictions on abortion clinics may not lower the abortion rate at all. In fact, abortion bans in Latin America have actually produced a higher abortion rate than in the United States. The only thing we know for sure is that abortion bans and restrictions increase unsafe abortions and kill women. Worldwide, unsafe abortions—primarily in regions that ban or restrict the procedure—kill 47,000 women annually. In Texas, as abortion restrictions increased, so too did self-induced abortions. By 2019, eight percent of Texas women had induced their own abortions.
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the wealthy world. It is the only wealthy nation in which they maternal mortality rate is rising, not falling. Bans on abortion force women to risk their lives to carry pregnancies they do not want. On this point, too, the data is clear:
When women are denied abortions, they, their families, and their partners suffer. The Turnaway Study, which compares people denied abortions to those who received them, has found that abortion denial worsens mental health and socioeconomic status. It increases domestic violence and reliance on government programs. Even 5 years after an abortion, more than 99 percent of women say they feel relief, not regret. Other research shows that men benefit financially and attain more education when their partners choose abortions.
Anti-choice legislators know all of this. They ignore it because their concern has never been for life. It’s about controlling women—even when doing so destroys families, economies, and communities.