Affidavits filed in an Ohio court illustrate the emotional and physical turmoil caused by the state’s abortion ban, which drew national attention in July when it forced a 10-year-old pregnant rape survivor to leave the state to receive abortion treatment.
As the Ohio Capital Journal As reported Thursday, abortion providers in the state have seen the impact of Senate Law 23 — which banned nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and is now temporarily suspended until mid-October — in dozens of patients with fetal abnormalities, cancer diagnoses and pregnancies resulting from rape.
“We had at least three patients who threatened suicide. Another patient said she was trying to terminate her pregnancy by drinking bleach.”
“In the days after SB 23 went into effect, we had to cancel over 600 appointments,” said Sharon Liner, medical director of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, in her affidavit filed as part of Premature Cleveland vs David Yost. “Many patients burst into tears in our practice. Many patients that we could not reach by phone and came to our health center expecting their appointment were extremely upset; some threatened to hurt themselves because they were so desperate.”
The court filings detail the cases of more than two dozen patients who learned they would not receive the care they needed after SB 23 went into effect following the repeal of the US Supreme Court Roe v. calf.
Medical providers represented by the ACLU in the case shared the stories of at least two other minors who became pregnant as a result of sexual assault and had to leave the state for care, two women who could not legally terminate their pregnancies and because of their pregnancies could not receive safe chemotherapy for cancer, and three women whose pregnancies were not viable due to fetal health problems.
Three patients wanted to terminate their pregnancy because of “debilitating vomiting” affecting their health, their ability to go to work or school, or their ability to care for their children, and one patient said in an affidavit was not housed and could not go to Ohio to have an abortion – putting her in a position to be forced by the state to become a parent when she had no place to stay.
“The majority of patients I speak to say they cannot travel abroad to access abortion care,” Allegra Pierce, medical assistant at Preterm Cleveland, said in her affidavit. “Although many patients can access sources of funding for an abortion, there are so many barriers that make international travel inaccessible to many of our patients, including the cost of travel, childcare responsibilities and the difficulty of taking time off from work, just to name a few.”
Three of the patients threatened to harm themselves, use dangerous methods to self-terminate their pregnancy, or commit suicide when they learned they could not get abortion treatment – many of whom had believed they would still be legal after SB 23 came into force because her initial ultrasound scans before the Supreme Court decision in June had not detected heart activity.
“We’ve had at least three patients who threatened suicide,” Liner said. “Another patient said she was trying to terminate her pregnancy by drinking bleach. Another asked how much vitamin C she would need to take to terminate her pregnancy.”
The affidavits filed against Ohio Attorney General David Yost in the medical providers case show how “time and time again workers at Ohio abortion clinics have described how women and girls were absolutely stunned when they learned that they didn’t have any kind of control over living the way they thought they did,” said Ohio Capital Journal Reporter Marty Schladen.
Schladen was reporting the affidavits as Jennifer Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, wrote a memo warning that the 15-week federal abortion ban approved earlier this month by Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C. ) was suggested a “statewide abortion ban” would create a public health crisis that threatens the health and lives of women in all 50 states.”
Klein pointed to examples from states that have banned abortion, including Texas.
“Carers have sent home patients whose health is at risk, who by law cannot provide care, and have not provided appropriate treatment until they have returned with signs of a life-threatening condition such as sepsis,” Klein wrote, adding, that medical professionals have said abortion bans “threaten the integrity of the medical profession by interfering with providers’ duty of care.”