Abortion numbers show issue not black-and-white

Ohio Department of Health officials announced this week the number of induced abortions in the state remains on a downward trajectory. There was a 2 percent decrease in the number of abortions reported last year, compared with 2017. In fact, that downward trend has been in place since 2001.

Certainly those who consider the topic of abortion as part of a moral discussion are celebrating such a trend; but a deeper look at the numbers shows the matter is not so black-and-white.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Ohio is actually falling behind other states in the trend toward a decreased number of abortions nationwide. Across the river, in West Virginia, there was a 26 percent decrease in abortions between 2014 and 2017. Here in the Buckeye State, the decrease during those years was only 9 percent.

Guttmacher Institute researchers say there are three major factors contributing to the general decrease.

Fertility rates declined in almost all states during the three-year period studied. Fewer women are getting pregnant in the first place.

There have also been improvements in contraceptive availability and use.

But, tragically, there has also been an increase in the number of women “relying on self-managed abortions outside of a clinical setting,” according to the institute.

In a report published Sept. 18, Guttmacher said “Abortion restrictions were not the main driver of the decline in the U.S. abortion rate between 2011 and 2017. Rather, the decline in abortions appears to be related to declines in births and pregnancies overall.”

If access to contraceptives is a factor in the decline, and Ohio is not moving in that direction as quickly as some other states, perhaps there is more to discuss when it comes to adjusting laws and attitudes that affect the change politicians say they are seeking.