Each September, the Ohio Department of Health releases the abortion statistics for the preceding year. Today, the 2015 statistics were released.
Statewide, abortions continued to drop, albeit by a smaller margin than in recent years. The total number of abortions performed in 2015 in Ohio was 19765, a reduction of about 250 from the previous year. In 2014 and 2013, abortions dropped by about 2000 each year.
Most counties where abortions are performed reported an increase in the number of abortions performed, with the exception of Cuyahoga County and Summit County. There was also an increase in the number of non-Ohio resident women who had abortions here.
Statewide, the number of abortions performed on white women decreased; the number performed on black women and other minorities did increase. The number of abortions performed in ambulatory surgical centers stayed roughly the same with the number performed in hospitals increasing (from 84 to 114). There was also a new statistic reported for abortions performed outside of a hospital or ambulatory surgical center: 32. Those are most likely attributed to a change in Ohio law in a recent budget bill that altered the requirements for ambulatory surgical centers. GCRTL has frequently pointed out that the language change would likely result in medical abortions being provided outside of surgical facilities.
Here in Central Ohio, we saw the number of abortions performed in Franklin County increase to 4715, an increase of 578 from the 2014 number of 4137. It still represents a significant decline from the 2012 numbers and continues a cycle that we have seen going back to at least 2000 with two years of decline followed by a year of increase.
Within the counties that GCRTL represents, we have seen some hopeful and some concerning statistics. For example, the number of abortions performed on Franklin County residents decreased for the third consecutive year, down to 3,333. While the number of abortions performed on white residents declined by about ten percent, the number of abortions performed on black and other minority women sharply increased by about ten percent (some, but not all of this could be attributed to an increase in the number of women who were determined to be of unknown race).
The number of abortions also declined for women living in Pickaway county. They increased for women living in Morrow, Delaware, Madison, Fairfield, Licking and Union Counties. The increase was the most significant in Union County, where the number of abortions doubled from 27 to 53.
It can be frustrating to see numbers like this despite our best efforts, so I would also like to put things into a bit of perspective. Statistics, by their very nature, are a way of measuring what can be measured. We can gain much insight but limited knowledge by looking at them. For example, we can see the number of women who had an abortion, but not the number who chose life based on the work that was done in the community, the prayers, and the contributions of our sidewalk counselors. We also cannot see the number of women who proceeded with their abortions and then were connected to post-abortion counseling.
On the other hand, I had some expectation that the number of abortions would increase in 2015, and here is why. First and foremost, as I mentioned above, abortions performed in central Ohio have tended to be cyclical in nature - two years in decline and one with an increase, for the past decade and a half. We also saw that both the clinics operating in Columbus in 2015 had an increase in days. For much of 2015, Founder's was open six days a week and had daily clinic escorts- employees and staff whose job was to get women from their cars and into the clinic without talking to GCRTL volunteers. In 2015, the Planned Parenthood on East Main became an abortion-only facility, which also suggested an increase in demand. Our turn-aways were steady for the first six months of the year, and then they slightly declined in the second half.
Here is why we are hopeful: In 2016, Founder's clinic has significantly reduced its hours and operating days. They are currently only open three days a week, and those days seem to be slower than they have been in the past. However, with a schedule that changes every single week, it has become more difficult to get volunteers who can consistently cover our days and times needed.
How you can help:
We know that when we have consistent prayer partners and sidewalk counselors, women choose life in greater numbers. We are able to get them from the clinic and to a life-affirming pregnancy help center. Today was the first day in a very long time that we were not able to have a volunteer at the clinic - most of those with weekday availability were attending the funeral of a local pro-life stalwart whose son is active with us today. I received a phone call that an ambulance was at the clinic. We are in the process of requesting the records, but a witness who contacted our office let us know that it appeared that a woman had collapsed outside of the clinic or possibly been pushed out of a car. We need to be there, every time and every day. If you can spare just two hours once a month, you could made the difference in the life of a woman and her unborn child. Join us at: www.gcrtl.org/pray.
We also need people who can support our work financially. This has been a tough year, and our time and resources have been stretched more thin than ever. It takes time and money to organize volunteers, track down information and public records, analyze data, identify life-saving resources for women who are hungry, homeless, abused, or addicted, and fight city hall's efforts to stop our work. This is a crucial part of the work that we do. For example, it was GCRTL who published information that the local abortion clinic owner owed back taxes on more than 1.2 million in income. We are the "someone" who follows up when the abortion clinic violates the law by not reporting abortion complications and deaths. Did you know that in 2014 a Columbus woman died after an abortion performed at Pre-term (a late-term abortion clinic in Cleveland)? And yet, the Ohio Department of Health statistics indicate that there were zero women who died from an abortion complication in 2014. The abortion industry frequently claims that abortion is safer than childbirth based on the complication rate. We know, however, that this is just another lie, because the complications are frequently not reported as complications from an abortion. We took a woman to the hospital after she passed out from hemorrhaging following an incomplete abortion, and she does not seem to have been reported as an abortion complication. Just a few weeks ago, we learned of a woman who was so high that she had to be helped into the clinic, unable to stand on her own. The abortion clinic provided narcan and called an ambulance only after performing the abortion. This was an abortion that she could not have consented to under Ohio law. Following up on this type of information is time consuming. It generally takes our office between three and six months for the Ohio Department of Health to respond to a public records request for inspection information or complication reports (and often we are told that those records are not available).
Yes, this year has been a tough one, but we will get through it and continue doing the work that is truly transforming our community one life at a time, but we need your help if we are going to keep doing it. If you would like to pray with us, you can sign up here. If you can donate to support our work, you can make a secure gift online. If you'd like to do both, I hope you will join us for our upcoming prayer-a-thon.