Ohio bans abortion after six weeks gestation, forcing others to travel

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Abortion in Ohio is still legal until about six weeks pregnant, but outside of that window, people who want to end it will have to travel to other states.

But it won’t be as simple as crossing the state line.

Kentucky’s abortion ban went into effect as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. And while abortion clinics in Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania are still operating, that access could be closed in each state in the near future, depending on election results and court rulings. West Virginia’s only clinic ceased service after the court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

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The closest states where abortion services are likely to continue? Illinois and New York. Political leaders in those two states repealed old laws that called for bans if Roe v. Wade fell and passed laws expanding access to abortion.

States where abortion services continue expect to see a large influx of patients seeking services. Planned Parenthood of Illinois, which has 17 sites, estimates that more than 20,000 additional patients will come from other states.

  • Illinois: The state allows in-clinic abortions up to 21 weeks and six days gestation and medical abortions up to 10 weeks and six days gestation. Planned Parenthood of Illinois also offers mail-in pill services, but patients must have an Illinois address and be physically located in the state at the time of the telehealth visit.
  • New York: The state expanded access to abortion in 2019 and protections for providers in 2022. New York allows abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy and later if the health or life of the patient is in danger.
  • Ontario: Americans with valid passports can also travel to Ontario to access abortion services at a dozen clinics located in and around Toronto. Ontario’s health insurance program covers abortion for Canadians who have this plan, but other patients pay out of pocket.

Is abortion legal in neighboring states of Ohio?

Abortion clinics are still open in Ohio and some neighboring states, but that may change in the near future.

On Friday, a federal court lifted a stay on a 2019 law in Ohio that bars abortions after heart activity is detected. The law of the “heartbeat” blocks terminations after this point, which is usually about six weeks into the pregnancy. Thus, abortions in Ohio clinics are reduced.

About 62% of the 20,605 abortions in Ohio in 2020 occurred during the first nine weeks of pregnancy, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Health. The report does not detail how many arrests occurred before heart activity could be detected by ultrasound.

Ohio lawmakers are expected to enact a comprehensive ban on all abortions later this year.

Here is the state of abortion services in neighboring states:

  • Michigan: Although abortions are still legal in Michigan, that could change at any time if a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of a state ban is lifted or otherwise removed, according to the Detroit Free Press.
  • Indiana: Abortions are allowed up to 20 weeks “after fertilization,” but lawmakers have expressed interest in adding restrictions to the procedure, according to IndyStar.
  • Pennsylvania: Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks gestation, but longer-term continuation depends on 2022 election results.
  • Kentucky: State enacted “trigger” law in 2019 that bans abortion after U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturns Roe.
  • West Virginia: In 2018, voters approved an amendment to the state constitution stating that there is no right to abortion. Abortions are currently legal up to 20 weeks gestation, but lawmakers and the current governor have expressed interest in restricting access or banning it. And the only clinic in the state has stopped its services.

Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliate news organizations in Ohio.

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