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Ohio Republicans Introduce One Of The Nation’s All-Time Worst Abortion Bills

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"Ohio Republicans Introduce One Of The Nation’s All-Time Worst Abortion Bills"

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(Credit: Huffington Post)

Ohio Republicans are already attempting to hijack the state’s budget process to push for abortion restrictions, advancing a version of Gov. John Kasich’s budget bill that includes amendments to defund Planned Parenthood and shut down abortion clinics. But they’re not stopping there. Now, a group of 35 Republican lawmakers in the House have introduced an omnibus anti-abortion bill that combines some of the worst attacks on women’s reproductive health into a single measure.

House Bill 200, introduced by state Rep. Ron Hood (R) and backed by 34 of his fellow Republicans, includes the following restrictions on the women who seek abortion care and the doctors who provide it to them:

Mandates invasive ultrasounds, and forces women to pay for the cost of the extra procedure themselves.

HB 200 would require women seeking abortions to undergo a mandatory ultrasound, a medically unnecessary procedure that is otherwise left to the discretion of a woman and her doctor. Although the bill does not specify which type of ultrasound procedure would be required — either an invasive transvaginal probe, or a less-invasive abdominal scan — it does note that it it must portray “the entire body of the embryo or fetus.” That will likely require many women seeking early abortion care in their first trimester to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, since that’s the only effective method of providing a clear image during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Under HB 200, women would be required to pay out-of-pocket for the ultrasound procedure — an additional medical cost on top of the high cost of abortion services.

Requires doctors to describe the ultrasound images to women seeking abortions, including details about the fetal heartbeat.

On top of forcing women to pay for an ultrasound that they may not consent to, HB 200 stipulates that doctors must provide details about the ultrasound images to their patients. If there’s an audible fetal heartbeat, doctors will need to describe it. Planned Parenthood argues these type of requirements simply serve to distress emotionally vulnerable women, and attempt to make them feel ashamed about their choice to end a pregnancy. “Information about a woman’s pregnancy should support a woman,” Celeste Glasgow Ribbins, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, pointed out. “This information should not be provided with the intent of shaming her or coercing her.”

Extends the waiting period for abortion to 48 hours, and eliminates the option for women to bypass it because of a medical emergency.

Ohio already forces women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion, an unnecessary restriction that ultimately requires women to make multiple trips to a clinic and can end up imposing serious financial burdens on women seeking abortions. HB 200 would extend that waiting period to 48 hours. And the proposed legislation would eliminate the “medical necessity” exemption that currently allows women to bypass the waiting period if they require immediate care. Under HB 200, even if a woman is experiencing a serious medical issue and needs to terminate a pregnancy immediately, she will still be forced to wait two days.

Requires doctors to tell women scientifically disputed information about abortion risks.

Doctors will have to tell women that fetuses can feel pain, even though many medical experts don’t agree with that assessment. Most anti-choice advocates have attempted to define 20 weeks of pregnancy as the point at which fetuses first begin feeling pain — which isn’t necessarily verifiable — but HB 200 would go even further and require doctors to talk about fetal pain in reference to much earlier abortions. They will also be required to tell their patients about a scientifically dubious link between abortion and breast cancer that has been widely debunked.

Requires doctors to tell patients how much money they earn from each abortion procedure.

Before proceeding with abortion care, medical professionals will need to provide women with a written form that explains exactly how much money they make from performing abortions. They will also have to clarify how much personal income they would lose if they did not provide abortion services. Abortion opponents have attempted to use similar logic to strip state funding from Planned Parenthood, arguing that the women’s health organization has nefarious goals because it profits from providing women with the reproductive care they need.

Punishes doctors who don’t comply with the new restrictions with a felony charge and up to a $1 million dollar fine.

If doctors don’t follow through with any of the provisions laid out on HB 200, they could face serious consequences, including jail time and crippling fines. Burdening abortion doctors with complicated restrictions that are difficult to navigate — including some requirements that medical professionals may object to, like being forced to tell their patients scientifically inaccurate information about reproductive health care — leads many doctors to stop practicing abortion care altogether. Recently, the nation’s leading gynecology group representing thousands of OB-GYNs across the country came out against harsh abortion restrictions like HB 200 for exactly this reason, explaining that these politically-motivated laws ultimately compromise patient care and prevent doctors from doing their jobs.

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