Ohio’s Restrictive Abortion Laws Doing More Harm Than Good

Imagine this scenario: You are a happily married doctoral student and you and your husband are excited for your first child. You both go to visit the doctor midway through your fifth month to find out your baby’s gender. Then you are dealt a crushing blow and find out your baby has a spinal abnormality which will cause it to die. You are then forced to decide whether to give birth to a stillborn daughter or opt for an abortion.

Sadly, this scenario was reality for Sheva Guy and her husband from Cincinnati, Ohio. The situation was then made even more painful and difficult by the restrictive abortion laws that have been passed in Ohio.

Guy knew that she could not handle the physical, emotional, and mental pain that would come from delivering a stillborn child, so she chose to have an abortion. But here is where Ohio managed to make this process even worse. Because Guy was 22 weeks pregnant, the local Planned Parenthood clinic was barred from performing the abortion. Guy then turned to the Dayton Women’s Center, who was allowed by law to perform abortions up to 22.5 weeks (Guy was at 22 weeks). However, due to the quick turnaround time required to get the abortion performed, the Dayton Women’s Center could not schedule Guy in time.

Since Ohio law banned any other state facilities from performing an abortion at this stage, Guy was forced to be referred to a hospital in Chicago for her procedure.

I want to pause for a moment to drive home this point. This was a medical procedure that, though Guy’s life was not in immediate danger, was necessary to protect her mental, physical, and emotional health. It was a procedure that her doctors recommended she have. And let us remember, her and her husband wanted this child. And because of Ohio’s restrictive abortion laws, Guy and her husband were required to:

  • take time off of school and work
  • drive four and half hours to Chicago
  • find lodging and food while they are there (at their own expense)
  • undergo a medical procedure far from home and their loved ones
  • recover from that procedure
  • drive four and half hours back to Ohio

Supposedly, under current Ohio law, doctors can perform abortions up to 24 weeks. However, most hospitals and doctors are fearful of the financial and legal ramifications of getting too close to that date and thus make the cut-off for abortion procedures earlier than the 24 week deadline.

And despite all of this, Ohio is still trying to make the cut-off for abortion procedures even earlier. This would likely mean that doctors and hospitals would push their cut-offs even further back as well. All of this could lead to women being unable to receive an abortion past as early as 18 weeks.

While many lawmakers in Ohio and on Capitol Hill may argue against abortion, they tend to forget women like Guy who are forced to have an abortion because they are dealt a devastating medical situation. There has to be a better solution to the abortion debate than harming these women that are most in need of our compassion and support.


Featured image via Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.