I Left Ohio for Abortion Training. After This Election, I Can Come Home.

Ohio still has dozens of abortion restrictions. But enshrining reproductive rights into the state constitution means I will return and provide care.

Ohio flag
Ohioans deserve the same choices my patients have. I can’t wait to come back and provide those choices. Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group illustration

I remember exactly where I was when Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022: sitting at my childhood dining table in Kentucky, studying for a licensing exam that would be the final piece in my application for residency (postgraduate training after medical school). That week, Ohio’s six-week ban went into effect, and my future career as an OB-GYN was suddenly up in the air.

I went to medical school in Ohio because I knew I wanted to be a reproductive health-care provider in the tri-state area. For years, I dreamt of becoming the medical director of a Planned Parenthood in the Midwest, where I’d be able to provide contraceptive and abortion services to members of my community.

Everything changed when Roe was no longer the law of the land. While I was on the interview trail for residency, my peers and mentors expressed concerns about the care we would be able to provide. What would happen to Ohioans with undesired pregnancies? How would we counsel patients whose water breaks too early or experience a complicated miscarriage? Some programs had plans to send residents to other states for abortion training or had alternative curricula in place, but surgical and clinical skills are perfected through consistent practice.

After years of picturing my life in Kentucky or Ohio, close to family and friends, I felt forced to leave. I knew I would not be able to get the training I needed here with abortion rights hanging in the balance.

My search for a program with comprehensive family planning training brought me all the way to Connecticut. At my hospital, a patient receiving an abortion is treated the same as someone getting a routine gallbladder removal. When a pregnant patient finds out about a devastating fetal anomaly in the second trimester, our high-risk obstetrics team can offer them the full breadth of options to honor the pregnancy however they wish. I am even able to offer a medication regimen as a treatment for miscarriage, a standard medical practice in states where laws do not tightly restrict mifepristone, the first of two pills used in a medication abortion. As a medical student in Ohio, where large parts of my reproductive health elective were canceled or postponed due to the six-week ban, I never imagined my training could be like this.

This is the future of abortion health care I wish for Ohio. Now that Ohioans have voted to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution, I can finally come home.

The impact Issue 1 will have on reproductive health care across the state is huge. A total ban on abortion is now unlikely to pass through the state legislature, and other restrictions, including bans on both the use of telemedicine to provide medication abortion and allowing public hospitals to provide abortion may be deemed unconstitutional. Right now, hundreds of aspiring OB-GYNs are in the middle of deciding where they will go on to grow and learn. As long as abortion remains safe and legal in Ohio, physicians here will feel empowered to provide their patients the full spectrum of options they deserve.

Although Ohio still has dozens of abortion restrictions in place that will not go away overnight, passing Issue 1 is one step toward ensuring Ohioans have the right to take control of their reproductive decisions, no matter the circumstance. Ohioans deserve the same choices my patients have. I can’t wait to come back and provide those choices.