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Ohio Research: Post-Roe Scenario Would Increase Travel for Abortion Care

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Thursday, April 21, 2022   

Researchers say abortion care would become even further out of reach for Ohioans should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision establishing a nationwide right to an abortion.

This summer, the court will rule on a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. If it is upheld, three proposed abortion bans in Ohio could go into effect.

Payal Chakraborty, a graduate student in the College of Public Health at Ohio State University, led a new study, which found in a worst-case scenario, Ohioans would travel 181 to 279 miles to access an abortion provider.

"Depending on which states ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, there would be either, like, a seven-times increase in average driving distance or a ten-times increase in average driving distance to get abortion care," Chakraborty reported.

She pointed out they also found Ohioans of color would be more affected by increased driving times than their white counterparts. According to data from February, centers of all Ohio counties were at most 99 miles away from an abortion provider.

A second study evaluated the reproductive-policy environment of states and the number of abortion providers and found an average of 8% of patients left their state for abortion care in 2017.

Mikaela Smith, a research scientist also at Ohio State, said in 12 states, more than 25% of patients crossed state lines, compared with fewer than 4% in 13 other states.

"States that have laws that are more restrictive of abortion tend to have a higher percent of patients leaving," Smith emphasized. "Those states that have more kind of protections around abortion have fewer percent of patients leaving."

Chakraborty added the logistical challenges of an abortion ban in Ohio go beyond extra miles on the road.

"The cost of getting an abortion is greatly increased," Chakraborty explained. "This would require missing work, finding child care, potential overnight stay, travel-related costs in terms of the amount of gas money or needing to access a car, etc."

Meanwhile, Smith noted in a survey last fall, a majority of Ohio women of reproductive age were supportive of legal abortion, which runs counter to restrictive policies being considered.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.


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