A 10-Year-Old Was Denied an Abortion in Ohio Because She Was More Than Six Weeks Pregnant

Just weeks after Roe v. Wade was overturned by a 6-3 Supreme Court vote, the ripple effects on the health and lives of individuals are evident: abortion appointments were cancelled and patients turned away as the ruling came down; politicians debated when and how to prosecute abortion providers who might break the law; and in Ohio, a 10-year-old abuse victim had to travel across state lines for an abortion.

In Ohio, where the Indianapolis Star reports the 10-year-old was seeking care, abortion is only legal until about six weeks gestation (which is only two weeks after a missed period, a time before many people even know they’re pregnant.) The child was reportedly six weeks and three days pregnant, which prohibited her from accessing abortion care. Ohio’s new abortion laws do not include exemptions for rape or incest. The age of consent in Ohio is 16.

The IndyStar reported that Caitlin Bernard, M.D., an Indianapolis-based obstetrician-gynecologist, was contacted by a child abuse doctor in Ohio who told her about the patient and asked if she could help. Ohio borders Indiana to the east and abortion laws in Indiana remain unchanged for the time being, though lawmakers are pushing to further restrict access. “It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care,” Dr. Bernard told the IndyStar.

In April, before Roe was overturned, Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt who had proposed a near-total abortion ban, was asked if her bill would force a teenage rape victim to carry a pregnancy to term instead of allowing abortion. In response to the question, Schmidt called rape resulting in pregnancy an “opportunity.”

“It is a shame that it happens, but there’s an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is, to make a determination about what she’s going to do to help that life be a productive human being,” she said.

While Ohioans can still travel to their neighboring state to access abortion, many people seeking an abortion won’t be able to make the trip. Barriers like cost, time off work, childcare, and more prohibit people from traveling for an abortion. For children and teens, these barriers are even steeper.

These are the real implications of overturning Roe v. Wade: While any reason for abortion is a valid one, many states aren’t including exemptions from extreme or total abortion bans for rape or incest, which could force a child to carry a pregnancy they could not consent to to term.

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