Many Ohio counties don't have family planning services for low-income residents
Ohio's new ban on abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy has renewed concerns about the accessibility of health care services and birth control, especially for low-income Ohioans.
The six-week abortion ban in Ohio went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Some supporters of the ruling, including Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, say they want to expand health care services to women and children. But that could be difficult.
The current state budget expanded Medicaid for new mothers from 60 days to one year, but there are no other plans to further expand the low-income health insurance program.
Former state Medicaid director John Corlett, now with the research group Center for Community Solutions, said a lot of Ohioans are in health care deserts when it comes to access to contraceptive options.
“The majority of Ohio counties have limited access to safety net family planning services. In fact, 34 counties have no access to safety net family planning services," Corlett said.
Corlett said there are a variety of locations that could host those services.
"They could be in public health facilities. They could be in a federally qualified health center. They could be in a family planning agency. They could be in a Planned Parenthood office. They could be in any number of those places," Corlett said.
And in most counties, Corlett said, "there isn't enough access to those services. They don't have enough, they're not large enough, they don't have enough staff, they don't have enough funding."
Corlett also notes two-thirds of women on Medicaid in Ohio are of childbearing age. Ohio doesn't have work requirements for people on Medicaid, though the state did ask for federal permission to put some in place.
In his statewide address following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, DeWine mentioned the state's Bold Beginning program which puts $1 billion into services such as prenatal care, parenting education, and childcare,
DeWine added, "I have directed our state health and human services agencies to bring me innovative, new ideas for ensuring that vulnerable mothers are immediately identified and receive the help they need."
However, the program does not address contraceptives and DeWine did not mention expanding family planning services.