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State report on abortion prompts debate

The National Abortion Rights Action League is blasting Ohio Right to Life's president over statements he recently made about abortion and rape. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

A few days ago, Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonadakis told me this:

Gonadakis - IN the state of OHio, according to the Ohio Department of Health, not one abortion last year was due to rape, incest or the health of the mothers.

But a Cleveland area doctor, Lisa Perriera, says she knows that’s wrong.
Perriera = I have done abortions for patients that have been raped in the past year.  I have certainly done abortions for women who have had a threat to maternal life in the past year.

Perriera says the state health department’s abortion report does not list enough information to draw a conclusion about how many abortions are performed after rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s health.  And while she says abortions under those conditions are rare, she believes one in every three Ohio women have had an abortion.  And she says making the practice illegal won’t make it go away but will only make it more dangerous.  Perriera says she doesn’t think government leaders should be the ones making decisions about whether a woman has a right to an abortion.

Perriera – I’m tired of having legislators tell me how I can practice medicine.  Last I checked, most of them didn’t go to medical school, didn’t go through all of that hard work, don’t sit in the office with me when I have to tell a woman that she has a baby with a fetal anomaly and that baby won’t survive but because she has Medicaid, she has to pay for her own abortion or carry that pregnancy to term because of laws that lawmakers have made.  They don’t have to sit in that room and talk to that woman but I do and it’s exhausting.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonadakis says there is evidence in national studies that shows there are not many abortions due rape or health of mother.  And he says the state needs to include those cases in its report.

Gonadakis – Absolutely.  I mean we do know, according to this report, if a woman has multiple abortions.  Unfortunately, many women who have had abortions last year have had multiple but we are, and I hope everyone would agree that we should disclose all of that information.  We don’t need to disclose names or identifying information but if a woman has an abortion due to rape, incest or health of the mother, it should be a line item in the abortion report.

Advocates for rape victims say the crime often goes unreported for a variety of reasons so even if the state collected that information on abortion reports, it might not tell the true story anyway.

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