There was no Wendy Davis in Ohio on Thursday when Republicans passed a state budget spending bill packed with last minute and unprecedented measures against abortion. Onlookers and democrats cried out in chants of “Shame!” when the final vote count tallied 53 to 44. Republican Gov. Kasich has until 11:59 pm on Sunday to line-item veto anything in the new spending bill. Kasich has declined to give any thoughts on the new measures, except to say he opposes abortion.
UPDATED: Two weeks before the spending bill vote, Ohio House Republicans introduced House Bill 200. The bill proposes some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country. House Bill 200 is currently making its way through committee and will be voted on when the House returns from their summer break in September.
3. Heartbeat must be detected before an abortion
The house approved a last minute amendment to the spending bill that requires physicians to detect a fetal heartbeat before they preform an abortion. The bill also requires physicians to offer a woman seeking abortion the chance to view or listen to the fetal heartbeat.
The bill does not specify how a doctor should detect the fetal heartbeat but the most common way is through an ultrasound. There is no medical reason for a woman to receive an ultrasound for a first-trimester abortion. States began to impose this procedure in the 1990s in what the Guttmacher Institute calls “a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion.”
4. Physicians providing abortions are not allowed admittance to public hospitals.
The proposal in Texas requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to hospitals within a 30-mile radius of their clinic. Ohio’s newly approved bill takes it a step further: doctors providing abortions are not allowed admitting privileges in public hospitals.
Ohio would be the first state in the nation to have such a law.
5. Pregnancy redefined
The spending bill rewrites the medical definition of pregnancy under Ohio state law. The bill declares that pregnancy begins at conception. This new definition contradicts commonly accepted biological science that contends pregnancy begins when the fertilized egg becomes implanted in the uterine lining.
6. Fetal pain must be described
House Bill 200 requires physicians to “describe the development of nerve endings of the embryo or fetus and the ability of the embryo or fetus to feel pain at each stage of development.” Meaning, a woman undergoing an abortion in the first trimester — which is when many abortions happen — must be told her fetus is capable of feeling pain even though there is no conclusive medical evidence of this.
While a Harvard Medical study found that during gestation a fetus can develop the pathways and branches for transmitting physical sensation (such as pain or warmth) but there is no evidence that those pathways are active before the third trimester of a pregnancy.
7. Doctors must tell women how much money they make from performing abortions
If House Bill 200 is approved, any physician performing an abortion will have to sign a “conflict of interest” waiver stating how much money the doctor or his or her facility made from preforming abortions in the previous year. The physician will also have to provide a statement detailing how much money they or their clinic would lose if a woman decides to carry her pregnancy to term. Before performing the abortion the physician must give a woman these documents.
Violation of this restriction would be considered a first-degree felony and the offender would be fined $1 million.
8. Ultrasounds include visual description; no rape exemption
Under House Bill 200, a woman seeking an abortion would have to undergo an ultrasound no matter the circumstances of her pregnancy.
If a woman refuses to look at the image of ultrasound the bill says the provider must give a visual description. The physicians must also explain the physiological state of the fetus. For example, if the fetus has a heartbeat, eyelids, fingers, and or toes.
9. Mandatory wait-time doubled
House Bill 200 would double the mandatory wait time for a woman to receive abortion from 24 hours to 48 hours. The wait period could not be bypassed unless “the pregnancy complicates the medical condition of the woman that the death of the woman would result from the failure to immediately terminate the pregnancy.” That means, for example, if a woman was raped —but not teetering on the brink of death—she would still have to wait the mandatory 48 hours.
10. ‘How sick is sick enough?’
Under the House Bill 200, a doctor would be able to get a medical waiver to bypass any of these restrictions in the case of a “medical emergency”. But the bill would change the definition of medical emergency from a serious medical risk to one that “so complicates the medical condition of the woman that the death of the woman would result from the failure to immediately terminate the pregnancy.”
Dr. Jason Melillo, an Ohio based physician explained the important shift in language to during his testimony at the Ohio Statehouse last week: “It may sound like a small distinction but it is an incredibly important one. In other words, how sick is sick enough?”
He added: “When physicians hesitate, sometimes people get hurt. This bill will cause potential hesitation even in emergency situations where 48 hours can very literally mean the difference between life and death.”
Correction: an earlier version of this article incorrectly cited language from House Bill 200 in reference to the spending bill.
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