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Health, Science & Environment

Dayton-area abortion clinic said Ohio's six-week ban will force it to close soon

The Kettering clinic is the only Dayton-area abortion provider still in operation.
File photo

Dayton's only abortion clinic plans to close in mid-September unless laws banning most abortions in Ohio and Indiana are put on hold.

A spokesperson for the Women's Medical Center, which operates a clinic in Dayton and another in Indianapolis, said about 90% of the women who have sought abortions at the Dayton clinic since Roe v. Wade was overturned in late June have not been able to get those procedures because of Ohio's new abortion ban.

That law, passed in 2019 but put into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe, bans abortion about six weeks into a pregnancy, as soon as fetal cardiac activity has been detected.

Ohio's law has no exceptions for rape or incest, but does allow for exceptions "to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” or “to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman”.

Now that Indiana is poised to put its ban in place in mid-September, the spokesperson said the Dayton clinic no longer has an option for the patients.

"What we have been able to do since Roe v. Wade was overturned was to pre-op patients in Dayton and then send these women to our other medical center in Indiana in Indianapolis and they would then complete the procedure," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson explained those being referred to Indiana had to get a surgical abortion rather than the less invasive pregnancy termination drugs.

"Unfortunately about 50% of our patients would have normally requested the medication abortion but because of the laws in Ohio, if they go to Indiana, we cannot give them the medication abortion because we run the risk of the patient going back to Ohio and miscarrying in Ohio, which would be illegal," the spokesperson said.

Indiana's new near-total abortion ban, which eliminates abortions for rape, incest, deadly fetal abnormalities or to save the life of the pregnant person, is set to go into effect on September 15.

That is the date the Dayton clinic is expected to close. The only thing that could stop the closure is if legal action is taken between now and then that could put Ohio's abortion ban on hold. There is one challenge currently pending before the Ohio Supreme Court right now.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said the closure of the Dayton clinic will mean many women will be forced to give birth because they lack options.

“Some people are just not able to get the time off of work or the child care or they may be in abusive relationships. There are a lot of reasons why a person, even with support, simply cannot leave the state of Ohio to get care,” she said.

Ohioans who have resources can continue to travel to other nearby states like Illinois or Pennsylvania to get care. Copeland said abortion advocates have been working together to make sure pregnant Ohioans have those options but she said that's not enough.

“You know these decisions, they should not be in the hands of politicians. People should not be forced to give birth in the state of Ohio,” Copeland said.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said his organization is grateful that the Dayton abortion clinic will be shut down.

"An unimaginable number of babies have lost their lives there. No longer will the greater Dayton area be subjected to this great tragedy. There are countless life-affirming options for pregnant women to receive real health care, prenatal care, and various social services to ensure both her and her baby are healthy and safe. We know the Montgomery County pro-life and health care community stand ready to provide true care to each and every pregnant woman in need," Gonidakis said.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.