By any standard, a report that the number of abortions performed in Ohio decreased dramatically last year is good news. Both pro-life and pro-choice residents surely can agree on that.
But like so much in our increasingly complex world, the report raises a number of questions.
State Department of Health officials say 24,764 pregnancies were terminated during 2011 in Ohio. That is the 11th year in a row the number of abortions has decreased. It is the lowest number of terminated pregnancies since the state began keeping records 36 years ago.
Of pregnancies terminated last year, 1,234 involved ''non-surgical'' procedures - abortion-inducing drugs, according to the state. That is a dramatic decrease from the 5,862 drug-induced abortions in 2010.
As health department officials noted in their report, the 2011 statistics, especially those for drug-induced abortions, need to be viewed warily. Explanations for why so comparatively few abortions were terminated ''non-surgically'' range from under-reporting by health care providers to a shift in how pregnancies are terminated.
The most important question that needs to be answered is quite simple: Why are fewer and fewer Ohio girls and women choosing to end their pregnancies rather than carry their children to birth?
Answering that question will take researchers into the territory of pro-life vs. pro-choice arguments. For example, is greater knowledge about abortions contributing to decisions by more women to avoid them?
Or, is there a greater confidence among more women that they, perhaps with help from social service agencies and charities, will be able to cope with raising unplanned children?
Still, the questions need to be asked and answered, regardless of whether inquiries and conclusions are viewed as politically correct. Investigating the statistics could lead to even fewer abortions in Ohio - and that would be wonderful.