This year’s report shows a concerning increase in the number of abortions performed, both as a state and locally. In all, the number of abortions statewide increased from 20,672 abortions in 2016 to 20,893 abortions in 2017. The net increase was split with about 1/3 of the increase in abortions coming from women living inside the state of Ohio and about 2/3 from women with a permanent residence outside of the state. It is not possible to tell from the statistics if those are women who are in Ohio temporarily (like college students) or those who are traveling here to seek an abortion.
Statewide, the most dramatic number of abortions continue to occur on babies at 9 weeks gestation or less – more than 50%. Other gestation ranges each saw a modest decline, with about a 10% reduction (from 508 to 454) in abortions on babies who had reached 19 weeks or greater gestation. One abortion was reported as being performed on an unborn child between 25 and 36 weeks. About 11 percent of the women having abortions reported being married, and 7 percent did not report their marital status. Just under 48% of women having abortions identified as white/Caucasian, 40 percent identified as being black/African American, and the remainder identified as Asian/PI (3.5%), or other/preferred not to report (9%). As in years past, the vast majority of abortions happened in Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (20,710), with 102 occurring in the hospital and 81 happening in non-surgical clinics (most likely an abortion-pill only clinic that operated for a few months in NE Ohio in 2017 before getting a surgical license). Overall, the use of the abortion pill has increased in Ohio since the FDA extended the pill’s use to ten weeks. Use of the abortion pill has increased from about 5% in 2015 to about 18% in 2016 to 25.5% in 2017.
Locally, abortion numbers were disappointing both as a region and in half of the counties that make up the geographical area covered by Greater Columbus Right to Life (Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Union, and Pickaway Counties). The total number of abortions performed in Franklin County (the only regional ambulatory surgical clinic) increased from 4,476 in 2016 to 4,844 in 2017. It is worth noting, however, that local abortion numbers have tended to be very cyclical. For the first time since at least 2003, one abortion was reported as being performed in Delaware County (we cannot know where, but most likely at a hospital. It is worth noting that some hospitals report emergency procedures to save a woman’s life as induced abortion, a supposition which is supported but not guaranteed by the report of “other surgical” for this procedure). By county of the mother’s residence, the number of abortions increased in Delaware (from 132 to 149), Franklin (from 3158 to 3258), Licking (from 156 to 161), and Union (from 38 to 44). Counties with a decline included Fairfield (118 from 149), Madison (42 from 44), Morrow (20 from 24) and Pickaway (34 down from 42). Regionally, the number of abortions performed via non-surgical methods was 33.7%, a dramatic increase from 2016 (21%) and 2015 (5.3%). Of women who live in Franklin County who had abortions, about 36% identified as being white/Caucasian and about 45% identified as black/African American. Similarly, 15 women having abortions in Franklin County reported as being 15 or younger.
Several years ago, GCRTL started reporting on the abortion rate locally. Last year, we averaged about 12 babies lost to abortion each day. Sadly, the rate this year will climb to about 13 babies each day. However, this year we’ve also decided to look at the abortion rate in context of the live birth rate. In doing so, we’ve compared birth rates to abortion rates in every county in Ohio for the past ten years. We will release the project’s statewide numbers in coming weeks. For now, however, we want to share some of the local numbers. We compiled the numbers by adding the number of reported abortions to the number of live births and determining the percentage represented by abortion. It is important to note that the numbers do not tell the whole story, as miscarriage deaths are not recorded prior to 20 weeks. Fetal deaths after 20 weeks gestation are recorded in Ohio, but not necessarily broken down by county in an accessible way. So miscarriages are NOT included. However, we think that the figure gives us a new way to think about the local impact of abortion and to look at the trends.
Here is what we see locally. In Franklin County, about 19 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Delaware County, about 8 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Morrow County, about 9 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Union County, about 8 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Madison County, about 11 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Pickaway County, about 12 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Fairfield County, about 10 of every 100 babies were aborted. Statewide, about 17 of every 100 babies were aborted. The highest rate in the state was Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) with about 34 of every 100 babies aborted. The lowest rate in the state was Lawrence County, where just over 1 of every 100 babies was aborted. The Ohio Department of health determines the abortion ratio as a number of abortions per 1000 live births rather than as a percentage of the combined total, so if you are looking at their chart (page 5 of the report), it will be different. The Department of Health calculated the abortion rate as the number of abortions per 1000 women of child-bearing age (15-44) in 2017 was unchanged from 2016, with about 8.9 abortions per 1000 women.
While looking at the data provides an interesting snapshot into what is occurring in our neighborhood, it is only useful to the extent that we have adequate resources to go into the community with programs like sidewalk ministry, education, and referrals. It is not too late for us to reduce the number of abortions in 2018, but we need your help. To join our prayer program, visit www.gcrtl.org/pray. We also need to raise another $30,000 through the end of the year. If you can donate to make that happen, you can be taken to our secure giving partner to make a donation here. If you would like to bring one of our educational programs to your church, school, or group, you can also email us, here.