According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Ohio is ranked 38th in reproductive rights out of all U.S. states. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise as there are only six full-service abortion clinics in the state and state law requires parental consent for minors seeking abortions.
Then there’s Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill,” which, although currently blocked by courts, dramatically restricts abortion access by banning abortion upon the detection of a heartbeat. One thing is clear: Ohioans — and all Americans — need greater abortion access and more protections for their reproductive rights.
Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that protected the right to an abortion, resulted in several benefits for those who can become pregnant. The legalization of abortion lowered teen marriage by 20% and teen motherhood by 34%. It also resulted in an increase in education for women, as well as more women attaining higher wages and a professional career. Those effects were greater among Black women. Access to safe, legal abortion reaps benefits and prevents the trauma of carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.
Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, several state legislatures have decided to ignore the negative ways in which abortion restrictions affect both children and their parents — Ohio being one of them.
Ohio seems to care a lot about protecting fetuses, but not so much after they’ve been carried to term. In Ohio, 18.2% of children live in poverty. Out of every U.S. state, Ohio ranks 42nd in infant mortality rate, 35th in child food security and 37th in child economic security. In fact, the lack of abortion access in Ohio directly contributes to its high infant mortality rate as babies born in states with restrictive abortion laws have a higher chance of dying.
Pregnant people are given little thought, too, even in urgent circumstances. Let’s not forget the ten-year-old Columbus girl who was forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion due to Ohio’s Heartbeat Law, which had gone into effect just hours after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The girl’s pregnancy, which was only six weeks along, was the result of a rape. Luckily, ongoing litigation is keeping the Heartbeat Bill at bay for now and abortions in Ohio are still accessible for up to 22 weeks, but the damage done by Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill cannot be undone.
If Ohio cared about children, it would focus on improving the lives of the children it already has. That means making sure families can afford to feed their kids, expanding healthcare, and, of course, letting parents choose when they want to have kids.
Ohioans deserve to have their rights respected, to have easy access to safe abortions and to have the ability to choose when or if they want kids. There is no reason for restrictions on their bodies and no reason to limit their choices. There will always be people who need abortions. They should be able to get them safely, without difficulty, and without needing to travel outside of their own state. Ohio needs better abortion access and stronger protections for reproductive rights—and it needs it now.
Lillian Barry is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Lillian know by tweeting her at @lillianbarry_.