When news broke in July that a 10-year-old rape victim had been forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion due to Ohio’s six-week abortion ban, all eyes were on the state. Now, a new affidavit filed to challenge Ohio’s ban (which is currently on hold until Oct. 12) demonstrates that the child was not alone: According to abortion providers in the state, there are at least two other cases of minors who were impregnated by rape being denied abortion care, as well as two documented cases of pregnant cancer patients who couldn’t get abortions and thus couldn’t receive chemotherapy.
According to the affidavit, three different Ohio women who were denied abortion care threatened to commit suicide. There were at least three cases of pregnant women who were forced to remain pregnant despite having fetal abnormalities that rendered their pregnancies unviable, and one case of someone whose pregnancy had made them so sick she couldn’t leave the clinic floor.
The current abortion ban was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) in 2019, but it went into effect shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The law makes no exceptions for rape, and abortions are only permitted when the pregnant woman’s life is in imminent danger—which is highly medically risky, dangerously arbitrary, and clearly did not help the aforementioned cancer patients.
We’ve been witnessing the horrifying ripple effects of Roe v. Wade on the health system for months, from a New York woman being denied medication that could cause birth defects for her chronic, debilitating pain because she was of “childbearing age” to a Louisiana woman being forced to carry a skull-less, nonviable fetus. At one point, the Kansas City Public Health System stopped providing Plan B to rape victims. But for many people, the case of the 10-year-old rape victim from Columbus, Ohio, stood out as especially disturbing—and it turns out that this was just the tip of the iceberg in the state.
Dr. Adarsh E. Krishen, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, stated in the affidavit that one minor who had been raped had to travel to Michigan for an abortion. “This patient experienced immense trauma as a result of the assault and then endured additional trauma as a result of a forensic interview and physical exam to collect evidence for the ongoing police investigation,” Krishen wrote. “This trauma was exacerbated by the fact that she had to wait more than three weeks for her appointment.”
According to Aeran Trick, operations manager at Women’s Med Center of Dayton, “a 16-year-old girl living in Southwestern Ohio who had become pregnant after being sexually assaulted by a family member,” like the 10-year-old, was forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion.
In her affidavit, Dr. Sharon Liner, medical director of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio in Cincinnati, stated that a cancer patient whose chemotherapy had been halted due to her pregnancy sought and was denied abortion care, despite the Ohio law’s ostensible exception for threats to the pregnant person’s life. Trick also described attempting to assist a pregnant woman with stage III melanoma who sought abortion care because her pregnancy had halted her cancer treatment. Both of these women were eventually forced to travel out of state for medical treatment.
Liner claims that after SB23 went into effect, her clinic “had to cancel over 600 [abortion] appointments.” “At least three patients have threatened to commit suicide,” she continued. Another patient stated that she planned to end her pregnancy by drinking bleach. Another person inquired as to how much vitamin C she would need to take to end her pregnancy. “No matter how heartbreaking these stories are, I don’t think they’ll move Gov. DeWine or his ilk.” After the 10-year-old rape victim’s case gained national attention, DeWine and other top Republicans tried to cast doubt on the story’s veracity, even threatening legal action against the Indiana doctor who treated the child. Other anti-abortion activists argued that there was nothing wrong with what had happened to the child and that we should normalize literal rape children becoming parents. These reactions should dispel with the myth that any amount of suffering from abortion bans will ever be “bad” enough to persuade anti-abortion politicians, who refuse to recognize pregnant people as human beings.