COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Democratic congressman in politically divided Ohio has publicly declared a position switch on abortion.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, of Niles in northeast Ohio, writes Wednesday in the Akron Beacon Journal that he initially opposed the procedure that ends pregnancy but now favors abortion rights.

A spokesman says Ryan did not make the switch for political reasons. The 41-year-old congressman's name often arises as a potential governor or U.S. Senate candidate. Press secretary Michael Zetts says the declaration simply makes official a stance that's been reflected in Ryan's votes for about five years.

Ryan says he grew up in a Catholic household opposed to abortion, but stories shared by female constituents over 14 years lead him to believe "the heavy hand of government" should be removed from reproductive decision-making.