Abortion ruling increases birth control demand

Jul. 26—Ohio medical providers are seeing increased interest in birth control in the wake of overturning Roe v. Wade and the state's own "Heartbeat Bill" prohibiting abortion after five or six weeks' gestation.

While some medical facilities are increasing services to accommodate that increase, it's not clear that all are.

The Cleveland Clinic recently announced that it would begin offering Saturday hours "dedicated to providing contraceptive options for patients" ages 14 and above at seven northeast Ohio locations.

"Since the decision (Dobbs, which overturned Roe), there has been an increase in calls, messages and questions about contraception options," said Tora Vinci, corporate communications manager for Cleveland Clinic. "We have received questions about all types of contraception, with particular interest in long-acting contraception options."

In the Miami Valley, public responses to the situation vary.

Kettering Health, with hospitals in Dayton and Hamilton; and Premier Health System, which operates Miami Valley Hospital, referred a request for comment to the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, which represents 29 hospitals in 11 counties.

Sarah Hackenbracht, GDAHA president and CEO said hospitals and health systems in the region will work with experts to figure out how the overturn of Roe will affect patients and healthcare providers.

"Some local providers are seeing an increase for certain contraceptive procedures (tubal ligation, hysterectomies), and those providers have the capacity to address that increased demand within their existing schedules," she said.

TriHealth Bethesda Butler Hospital does not yet have quantifiable information on increased contraceptive demand, according to Tom Lange, senior public relations consultant for TriHealth.

Catholic-run Mercy Health, which operates Springfield Regional Medical Center, referred questions to the Catholic Health Association of the United States. That organization did not respond directly, but on the day of the Dobbs ruling issued a general statement attributed to President and CEO Mary Haddad

"In Catholic health care, we do not perform elective abortions as it is counter to our mission, our values, and our faith," Haddad said. "Members of CHA will continue to provide women, children, and families with the highest standards of medical care."

One group that's seeing — and dealing with — an upswing in contraceptive demand is Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. That has come since Roe's overturn, with people wanting to understand how effective their method of birth control is, according to President and CEO Iris Harvey.

Many say they want their partners to get vasectomies, she said. Many patients still use birth-control pills, while lots use long-acting Depo-Provera shots or long-term drug implants, Harvey said.

"It really depends on the person, where they're at in their family planning, what they're most comfortable with," Harvey said.

What people chose a year or two ago may have changed, due to changes in their own lives or in outside conditions, she said. Patients who got a contraceptive that lasts for three years may now opt for one that lasts longer, Harvey said.

"Planned Parenthood is dedicated to reproductive healthcare, and probably has the largest range of contraceptive care," she said. "Most of our appointments are related to that. "We're all in the mode of increasing our staff and adding on additional opportunities for patients to come in and explore their reproductive life plans."

The people Planned Parenthood serves are often from different demographics than those that go to hospitals or private clinics, Harvey said.

"Our patients are primarily patients who live at or under the federal poverty line. Many of them may be uninsured. Close to 40% of them use Medicaid," Harvey said. Planned Parenthood serves them regardless of their ability to pay or whether they have insurance, seeking to ensure that marginalized communities, people of color and the low-income are equitably treated, Harvey said.

Planned Parenthood believes its responsibility is to openly provide the most complete factual medically information on patients' options, allowing them to choose the best method for them personally, whether that is continuing pregnancy, adoption or abortion, Harvey said. The organization's clinics can provide pregnancy testing and gestation dating — crucial in light of Ohio's "Heartbeat Bill."

On July 14, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost's office issued an explanation of exemptions to the "Heartbeat Bill," which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. Yost's office says the bill does not specify a gestational time limit. A heartbeat is generally detectable, however, five or six weeks into pregnancy.

Yost's office said the law now in effect "contains three exceptions, though they are not labeled as such: one to prevent the death of the mother, the second, due to a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant mother, and the third in cases of an ectopic pregnancy."