The Ohio Department of Health released the 2020 Abortion Statistics Report today. The statistics look at various demographic information like where the abortion was performed and where the mother who had the abortion resides. It tracks the methods of abortion –distinguishing between surgical and non-surgical abortions, and it also breaks down abortion methods. While the data is anonymous, it looks at things like the mother’s race and ethnicity, her number of reported prior abortions or live births, her education, her age, and her marital status. You can review a copy of the 2020 Ohio Abortion Statistics here (note: it is a large file). While the numbers never tell the whole story, they can give us a snapshot of what is happening in Ohio and give us insight into trends to help us to focus our resources, attention, and programs where they are most needed.
In June, we predicted that the number of abortions statewide would increase by at least two percent. Unfortunately, that prediction was very accurate. Statewide abortions in Ohio increased last year by about 2.5% (503) to 20,605 last year. This means that about 57 babies died by abortion each day in Ohio last year. Statewide, about 52% of all abortions were committed via surgical methods and about 48% via nonsurgical methods, generally the abortion pill. Use of the abortion pill grew statewide from 38% the year prior.
Once again, however, central Ohio was a leader in reducing the number of abortions, with about a 12% decline. In 2019 there were 3993 abortions performed in Franklin County. In 2020, that number declined to 3115. In the last decade, we’ve reduced abortions by about 35%, and in the past two decades we have cut the number of abortions nearly in half. The use of the abortion pill continues to grow; last year about 80% of all abortions were non-surgical, almost entirely using one or both pills in the abortion pill regimen. Of the 2803 medical abortions, 2 were performed using methotrexate and for one the method was not reported. This is an increase in both number and percentage from 2019 when about 70% of abortions used the pill.
When we see a local decrease in abortions performed but state as a whole and the other facilities are seeing increases, one thing we look to is the number of abortions performed on women who live in Central Ohio. It is no real victory for life if women are merely traveling further away to get their procedures. With the closure of Founder’s last year and the increasing use of the abortion pill locally, this was a very real possibility. Initial reviews of the numbers show that this is not likely to be true (although we will do a more in-depth analysis as we have more time to review them).
In looking at the counties we most directly work with and in, all but one saw a significant decline in the number of abortions when compared to last year. Franklin County women had 51 fewer abortions (about 2%) with 3115 total, Delaware County women had 18 fewer abortions (about 12%) with 131, Licking County women had ten fewer abortions (about 6%) with 151, Madison County women had six fewer (about 15%) with 35, Morrow County women had 8 fewer (47%) with 9 total, Pickaway County women had 8 fewer (17%) with 39, and Union County women had 3 fewer (about 1%) with 37. Fairfield County women did see an increase of 28 (about 22%) with 151 total abortions.
A few initial things about these numbers jump out at us.
Women identifying as African-American continue to have abortions in numbers that are disproportionately high. For what we believe is the first time, African-American women obtained the largest percentage of abortions statewide. Forty-three of every 100 abortions in Ohio were performed on women identifying as Black or African American. White women accounted for 42%, and Asian women 3%. Just under 12% of women did not identify as one of the above or did not respond to this question. In 2020, about 12.5% of the total population of Ohio identified as African American.
It is difficult to estimate the pandemic’s influence on abortion. The research from our June findings suggested higher numbers of total abortions in April and May of 2020 when compared to other months, and there was an especially large increase in the number of abortion pills reported in those months. However, the authors of the study we cited concluded that the Governor’s executive order banning elective medical procedures resulted in the sharp increase of medication abortion in April. Litigation filed against the state by abortion advocates earlier this year also cited the impact of the Executive Order on surgical abortions, with the Ohio Department of Health sending inspectors to ensure the clinics were not operating until stopped by litigation.
It is clear that the closing of Founder’s in July of 2020 made a difference. Each time an abortion clinic or an abortion referring clinic closes locally, we see a significant drop abortion (and we have seen an increase those times a clinic has opened or re-opened). Together we have closed or stopped six locations in the past decade, saving tens of thousands of lives locally. The focused work of a unified and organized pro-life sidewalk ministry is integral to the success of the pro-life movement. The dramatic decline in abortions performed locally can be directly tied to the work that we are doing. If you’d like to get involved, now is a great time. Visit: gcrtl.org/swc-survey to join us.
The abortion pill is changing how abortions happen. Abortion organizations are pushing and promoting the use of the abortion pill, including encouraging women to purchase abortion pills online or oversees for “self-managed abortions.” Not only have we seen how dangerous this can be for both women and the children born alive after such ill-advised experiments, but we know how deeply this will impact our community. We have changed how we operate to reach women considering the abortion pill, but we need to continue to adapt and grow in this area. We also have a wonderful opportunity to increase abortion pill reversal referrals and education.
Lastly, we need to continue our work with and support to life-affirming organizations like Greater Columbus Right to Life as well as those that accompany women and families facing pregnancy and life challenges, and we need to provide encouragement and hope for anyone who may suffer after experiencing an abortion. In 20 years we reduced the number of abortions performed locally by about 50% and we have slowly built the infrastructure to provide community-based help and resources for families who have chosen life. With the prospect of the Dobbs case restoring abortion law to the states and Ohio’s current six-week prohibition on abortion and the likelihood of passing pending legislation that would outright ban abortion in Ohio, we will need to redouble our efforts. The pen stroke that will eliminate abortion will not also eliminate the suffering that leads women to believe it their best or only option.