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Abortion providers share stories of Ohioans seeking services

Planned Parenthood President Iris Harvey at protest
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Planned Parenthood President Iris Harvey at a protest.

Ohio's new six-week abortion ban is in place but Ohioans who want abortions still have options to get connected to those services.

Dr. Adarsh Krishen, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said staff at those facilities had to call patients scheduled for abortions — in the days following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — to cancel those procedures.

Within hours of the high court's action, a federal court that had put Ohio's six-week abortion ban on hold, allowed it to go into effect.

That ban, also known as the “heartbeat” bill, prohibits abortion at the point fetal cardiac activity can be detected. That's around six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. Since that time, Krishen said staff at Planned Parenthoods in Ohio have been helping patients in different ways.

"We have patient navigators who have been helping the patients in accessing the care that they need. Most of our patients are traveling to neighboring states to get their care. The staff and navigators assist those patients in providing labs and ultrasounds as needed, appointment scheduling to an area that best meets the needs of a patient, financial assessments to aid with travel, childcare, hotel arrangements and to reduce any barriers they may face," Krishen said.

Krishen said there's a robust network of providers that have been working together to determine what they can and cannot do to make sure the transfer of care is as safe, seamless and timely as possible. And he said private businesses have been helping out in various ways by providing funds, transportation and more to help people seeking abortions get them.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio President and CEO Iris Harvey said she hears the stories about parents who have been instructed to take their 10- and 14-year-old pregnant children to neighboring states to get abortions. She said her staff has been dealing with some pregnant adults too, including one who was completely desperate.

“She said to them, ‘I’m homeless. I can’t take care of myself," Harvey said as she relayed the conversation the person experiencing homelessness had with Planned Parenthood staff members.

As the conversation went on, Harvey said the pregnant homeless person threatened personal harm.

“’I'm on a corner with really busy traffic. I'm going to step off this curb. I'm going to step in front of a car. And I'm going to end all of this if you can't help me,’” Harvey said the pregnant person threatened.

Harvey said staff was able to get mental health treatment on the scene to prevent that self harm. But Harvey said those are just some of the many stories of pregnant people in Ohio who do not have abortion options right now. And she feared that will get worse once state lawmakers come back in the fall to pass an outright ban on abortion.

The future of abortion in Ohio

The future of abortion in Ohio could change soon. Republicans who control the Ohio Legislature say they want to pass an all-out ban on abortion in Ohio.

Jessie Hill, associate dean for research and faculty development at the School of Law at Case Western Reserve University said the court case her group filed with the federal court to block the six-week abortion ban from going into effect is still under consideration on its merits. She's hoping the court will determine Ohio's constitution allows abortion. At the federal level, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to preserve access to abortion.

"I'm asking the Justice Department that, much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their rights," Biden said in a news conference Friday.

Biden said he's asking other federal agencies to take action to protect access to abortion medications and birth control and to protect the privacy of patients. But Biden's actions are limited. He said Congress needs to pass a law to codify Roe v. Wade.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.
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