- Associated Press - Monday, October 2, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Groups on opposing sides of the abortion debate disagree on what led to a record low number of the procedures recorded in Ohio last year.

There were 20,672 abortions performed in Ohio in 2016, according to a recently released report by the Ohio Department of Health. That’s the lowest number in the 40 years records have been kept, according to officials. The number reflects a steady decline that opposing sides of the debate attribute to different causes.

The Ohio chapter of the anti-abortion group Right to Life claims the drop in abortions reflects a shift in culture. Nineteen laws were passed since 2011 that restrict abortion rights or increase abortion clinic responsibilities.

“The historic low of abortions reported today indicates that the culture of life we’ve strived for is becoming a reality,” according to a statement by chapter President Mike Gonidakis. “That being said, Ohio Right to Life is whole-heartedly committed to fighting for the sanctity of human life, until the Abortion Report is unnecessary because there are no more abortions committed in Ohio.”

The pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice points to more affordable, medication-induced abortions when explaining the rate’s drop. Non-surgical abortions increased by more than a thousand in 2016. MifePristone, a drug used to induce abortion, was used in most non-surgical abortions in the state, according to the report.

“The real story with this year’s report is that Ohio women are accessing more affordable medication … at a rate closer to before Ohio law required physicians to use an outdated, less effective, more expensive protocol,” NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle said in a statement.

Miracle criticized legislative efforts to limit abortion in recent years.

“Unfortunately, Governor John Kasich and his band of usual suspects have wasted the taxpayers’ time and money in pushing illegal and immoral tactics designed to block access to abortion clinics,” Miracle said.

Ohio has seen a decline in the reported number of abortions since 2013. The number of abortions reported in 2016 was about 300 fewer than in 2015.

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