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Both sides agree Heartbeat Act helped reduce Ohio’s abortion numbers by 15% in 2022

by | Oct 5, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

In a little over a month, Ohioans will decide the fate of Issue 1–a ballot initiative that, if approved, will enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution. To borrow from NRLC President Carol Tobias, for pro-lifers, it’s “All hands on deck!”

“The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” comes at a time when the number of abortions in Ohio has dropped by a lot, reversing a trend of increases in both 2020 and 2021.

As Prof. Michael New has written,

This week the Ohio Department of Health released updated abortion data for Ohio. Overall, the news is good for pro-lifers. In 2022, the number of abortions performed in Ohio fell by more than 15 percent. This data, along with data from Texas, demonstrates that pro-life Heartbeat Acts reduce abortion rate and save lives.

A key factor in the decline of the number of abortions is that for part of 2022–from June 24 to September 14—”the Heartbeat Act was in effect,” New writes. SB 23 “protects preborn children after six weeks’ gestation. These new data from Ohio, along with both birth data and abortion data from Texas, provide very strong statistical evidence that heartbeat laws lower abortion rates and protect preborn children.”

Other accounts also gave credit to the Heartbeat Act. Madeline Ottilie writes “Researchers and activists say Ohio’s ‘heartbeat law’ is a big part of the reason why” the numbers dropped.

“The decline in abortions among Ohio residents is clearly linked to the loss of access,” said University of Cincinnati sociology professor Dr. Danielle Bessett.

Dr. Bessett conducts abortion research with the Ohio Policy Evaluation Network (OPEN), which tracks abortion numbers month by month.

“Once we hit the heartbeat ban, we actually see a real significant drop,” she said.

Susan Tebben, writing for the Ohio Capital Journal seconded that conclusion—” Annual Ohio abortion report shows double-digit decrease.”

Imagine how much greater the reduction would have been had Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins not placed a preliminary injunction on SB 23, later turned into an indefinite injunction. 

In addition to changing the term “fetus” to “baby,” the initiative’s original language said “… in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.” The new version explains the amendment would “Always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability, if, in the treating physician’s determination, the abortion is necessary to protect the pregnant woman’s life or health,” according to Bridget Sielicki.

State Senator Theresa Gavarone noted that the new language more accurately portrays the reality of the amendment. “The Ohio Ballot Board’s mission today was to create ballot language that accurately describes the proposed amendment as written,” Gavarone said in a statement, adding:

The language of the amendment is purposefully written very broadly. As such, the summary approved today accurately reflects the broad language of the amendment. I wish the language would have been more specific to the voters as to what this proposed amendment means and the disastrous consequences its passage will have on women and families.

That being said, I am thankful to have played a part in setting the record straight and am proud to deliver the truth to Ohioans about this dangerous proposal.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose reminded voters that the full text of the amendment — which differs from the ballot language — will be readily available for public viewing. “[The text] is presented on a poster in the polling location, and will be published in newspapers throughout the state and available through a whole variety of publications as well,” LaRose said.

Categories: State Legislation