Dozens of local women get abortions each year

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton and Montgomery counties lead 10 New York state counties of similar size in the number of women receiving abortions.

A Planned Parenthood official for this area says the data for the two counties aren’t out of the ordinary, however.

“The research we see in Fulton and Montgomery counties are pretty standard,” says Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson Director of Communications Emma Enness.

The numbers are of residents in the counties who received abortions. The residents did not necessarily have the abortions in the two counties.

The state Department of Health provides statistical data related to abortions for women in all 62 counties, the latest data being from 2014. A total of 93,299 induced abortions were performed in New York state in 2014.

An analysis of 10 counties roughly the same size finds Fulton and Montgomery counties led in numbers of abortions by residents among those counties.

Montgomery County (population 50,250) led the group of 10 with 148 abortions, with Fulton County (population 55,526) second with 140 abortions.

Ten years ago in 2004, the state reports the numbers of abortions in the counties were slightly higher. Montgomery County had 167 abortions in 2004, while Fulton County had 147 abortions then.

In 2014, Montgomery County ranks 23rd statewide in the rate of abortions, with 22 percent of its pregnancies aborted. Fulton County ranks 25th statewide, with 21 percent of its pregnancies aborted.

The two area counties’ abortion rates are in the middle of the state’s 62 counties. Fulton County had 260 induced abortions per 1,000 live births. Montgomery County had 238.

Similar-sized counties rounding out the top 10 in the number of abortions were: Otsego County (62,232) – 127 abortions; Cortland County (49,294) – 107; Greene County (49,159) – 94; Tioga County (51,049) – 92; Chenango County (50,405) – 91; Washington County (63,288) – 90; Genesee County (60,082) – 79; and Franklin County (51,579) – 75.

Enness said there are different kinds of abortions. She said medical abortions are done at Planned Parenthood’s licensed centers in Fulton and Montgomery counties. Those centers are at 400 N. Perry St. in Johnstown, and at 4803 Route 30 in Amsterdam.

Medical abortion involves the patient taking pills, forcing the fetus from the woman’s uterus, Enness said.

“A woman takes a pill, in one combination of drugs, and takes a second pill and miscarries,” she said. “It’s like a heavy period.”

DOH data indicates that 95 of Fulton County’s 140 abortion patients in 2014 were done by an operative procedure known as D&C, or dilation and curettage. It is a brief surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and a special instrument is used to scrape the uterine lining.

Eighty-four of Montgomery County’s 148 abortion patients were through the D&C procedure.

Nathan Littauer Hospital spokesman Carla Kolbe said no abortions are done at the Gloversville facility.

Fulton County Public Health Director Dr. Irina Gelman couldn’t be reached this week for comment.

Montgomery County Public Health Director Kim Conboy said her department does not provide abortion services and doesn’t have any public information regarding abortions.

“If an individual was to contact our local health department and inquire about abortion services, staff are trained to refer them to their health care provider,” Conboy said. “If they did not have a health care provider, staff would provide the individual with a list of health care providers in our county.”

DOH statistics show that 108 of Fulton County’s 140 abortions in 2014 were covered financially through Medicaid. Fourteen were funded through an HMO, seven through other insurance, and seven through self-pay.

Of Montgomery County’s 148 abortions, 115 were paid for through Medicaid, 15 through an HMO, eight through other insurance, and six through self-pay.

In the Capital Region, the numbers are expectedly higher: Albany County – 1,148 abortions; Saratoga County – 345; Schenectady County – 834; and Rensselaer County – 543.

According to its website, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson serves more than 20,000 women and men annually at 10 licensed health centers in the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley. In addition to abortion care, medical services include annual exams, birth control, cancer screening, HIV testing, and sexually transmitted infections testing/treatment.

DOH data shows that of Fulton County’s 140 abortions in 2014, women aged 20 to 24 represented 56 of the abortions. The next highest was 31 in the 25 to 29 age category. One abortion was done for a female under 15, and 10 involved ages 15 to 17. Three abortions were performed for women aged 40 to 44 in Fulton County.

The data for Montgomery County shows a similar trend for the mother’s age: 53 abortions for the 20 to 24 age group; seven in the age 15 to 17 category; and three in the upper age bracket of 40 to 44.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973’s Roe vs. Wade decision ruled that woman, in consultation with her physician, have a constitutionally-protected right to choose abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. But some states are creating new laws to restrict access to abortion clinics.

This area is no different from any other with a certain pro-life population. Every fall, about 100 people take part in a National Life Chain on Route 30A in Johnstown. Participants hold pro-life signs and pray on behalf of pre-born babies and their mothers.

Enness said that wherever a woman receives an abortion, it is indicative of how available they are in an area.

“People are looking at options,” she said. “It’s definitely about accessing those services.”

Enness said Planned Parenthood tries to make abortion assistance for women available.

“We try to make services as accessible as possible,” she said.

But she said the reason why women have abortions are often varied, including not being able to afford the expenses associated with a child. Enness said many states try to restrict access to abortion services by creating new laws, and the situation seems to be getting worse with pro-choice groups battling anti-choice, or pro-life groups.

Many health facilities may not do abortions, but provide some post-abortion counseling services.

Registered nurse Maureen Cavanaugh runs a post-abortion bereavement support group at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. She said the group has attracted participants – who have terminated their pregnancies for medical or genetic reasons – from both Fulton and Montgomery counties.

“We run a group modeled on the hospice bereavement group,” Cavanaugh said.

A pro-choice hotline provides the public with further information: 1-800-ABORTION.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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