Science-Defying Abortion Bill Introduced by Ohio Legislators Endangers Pregnant People
The U.S. government’s assault on bodily autonomy has reached new, science-defying extremes. Extremes that put even doctors’ lives at risk.
Last week, a coalition of anti-choice organizations and lawmakers in Ohio introduced a bill to criminalize abortion. The proposed law would charge doctors with aggravated murder, subjecting them to extreme sentences and in some instances, capital punishment. Laws such as this one have been proposed before, but the Ohio bill goes a step further, requiring doctors to replant ectopic pregnancies in the uterus after the tissue is initially removed.
Two percent of all pregnancies are ectopic, resulting in the growth of a fertilized egg outside the uterus. Most frequently the fertilized egg remains in the fallopian tube, unable to migrate to the uterus for development. These complications are extremely dangerous to the pregnant person’s health, and can result in heavy bleeding, and in some cases, death. Ectopic pregnancies are unviable, and in order to avoid severe complications, immediate surgery is required to remove the fertilized egg.
The bill sponsored by Ohio anti-choice advocates would require doctors to replant this egg in the pregnant person’s uterus. The problem? The procedure doesn’t currently exist. While only a speculative threat at this point, if developed and enforced, this procedure would have severe human rights implications. By requiring doctors to perform unprecedented procedures which could have untold medical consequences, including infection and bleeding, fetal deformities, and even death, lawmakers are putting pregnant people and their families in danger.
Who is most likely to suffer the consequences of these policies? Due to systemic inequalities, they have the largest impact on people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and those living in rural areas.
This Ohioan bill represents another attempt by conservative lawmakers to control the bodies of women and marginalized people.
While private clinics may be able to avoid these stringent regulations by accepting clients with private insurance, clinics that rely on federal funding will be forced to comply with statewide mandates.
Over the summer, President Trump signed into order a domestic gag rule restricting clinics’ eligibility for federal funding. Unsurprisingly, the first to lose aid are health centers that provide, discuss, or refer patients for abortions. As a consequence, clinics that rely on Title X funding to keep their doors open and continue providing life-saving services and routine check-ups are vulnerable. By restricting funding, the government has barred doctors from providing comprehensive, accurate information and services to their patients.
Organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide care on a sliding-scale payment system are the first to feel the implications of this policy. As a nonprofit that serves 41% of Title X patients in the United States, this order puts the status of health care and human rights in the United States in jeopardy.
The assault on health care in Ohio is alarming, but not unique. For years anti-choice legislators and executives have enacted policies that prey on the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our communities. In the last year, sixteen states have introduced restrictive “heartbeat bills” that prevent people from seeking abortion after the 6-week mark, before most individuals know they are pregnant. Five of these states’ governors have signed the laws into effect. More states have indicated their intention of following suit. Pro-choice advocates are fearful that Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court abortion case, will be overturned in the near future.
The United States, supposedly a bastion for human rights, has long disregarded the rights of half its population. In the 1970’s amidst broader social unrest and political mobilization, women and feminist allies pushed for the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment. Although passed by the Senate, the amendment faced conservative backlash from the vast majority of states. Since the 1970’s, groups have attempted to build momentum and garner support for the bill but have proved unsuccessful. The issue of women’s rights and freedom from discrimination arose, again, with the introduction of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women at the United Nations in 1979. While 189 countries have signed onto the treaty, the U.S. has yet to do so. Policymakers have weaponized women’s rights and the issue of abortion for decades, and this Ohioan bill represents another example of legislators prioritizing politics over human rights. One that would have horrific implications if passed.
The attack on abortion rights has reached new extremes, and if we don’t act fast, we may encounter a world fraught with unprecedented levels of maternal mortality and severe health costs.
What’s next? Call your senators, donate to Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or the ACLU to protect patients’ access to life-saving health care.