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Interest in voluntary sterilization is increasing because of the new abortion ban in Ohio

Protestors wanting abortion rights at the Ohio Statehouse on Sunday, June 26,2022
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Protestors wanting abortion rights at the Ohio Statehouse on Sunday, June 26,2022

Columbus resident Kathryn Poe is planning their upcoming wedding. But there’s one thing Poe and their fiancé are planning that isn’t commonly found on the “to do” list provided by wedding consultants — going under the knife to be sterilized.

“If I were to get pregnant, it would be seriously life-threatening. There’s a pretty high likelihood I could die,” Poe said.

Poe, 24, said their fiancé has agreed to get a vasectomy.

“I’m pretty sure he is going to schedule one for December,” said Poe, who first talked to Statehouse News Bureau in May about the possibility of sterilization after the U.S. Supreme Court's draft opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health was leaked.

And Poe said they're talking to doctors about also getting sterilized, just to make sure an unintended pregnancy doesn’t happen.

While Ohio’s current ban on abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy does allow exceptions for medical emergencies, other legislation is being considered that doesn’t. And Poe doesn’t want to take any chances.

“This will definitely make me feel safer and given the current considerations in the Ohio Legislature, I don’t know how long abortion is going to be legal even at six weeks,” Poe said.

Majority Republicans in the Ohio House and Senate have already said they want to pass a ban on abortion later this year that goes further than the current six-week one, which is being challenged in court. And some of the legislation under consideration could also ban popular forms of birth control and IVF treatments.

Poe is not the only Ohioan who is considering permanent voluntary sterilization. Dr. Samantha Clark, an OB-GYN from northeast Ohio, said she’s seeing an increase in patients who want to be voluntarily sterilized.

“I’ve seen a very large jump in young women coming in for sterilization requests even if they already have long-acting contraception because they are so fearful,” Clark said.

Clark says patients are afraid they’ll lose effective methods of birth control soon. Other Ohio physicians also say they’re seeing more interest in tubal ligations or vasectomies.

For instance, the Cleveland Clinic reports there were three to four daily requests to schedule vasectomies before the U.S. Supreme Court decision, and that soared to a total of 90 in the week after it.

Meanwhile, Democrats who are outnumbered nearly two to one in the Ohio Legislature, are focusing on trying to win some seats statewide and nationally in November so they can pass legislation to codify abortion rights.

Activists for and against legal abortion are also considering taking the issue before Ohio voters next year. But neither side has started the official process to put those measures on the statewide ballot.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.
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