Ohio Anti-Abortion Bill: From the Uterus to the Doctor's Office, GOP Lawmakers Mark Their Territory

For a party that incessantly cries for the government to stay out of healthcare (and has, to date, voted, unsuccessfully, 37 times against Obamacare to highlight their point), the GOP's friends in Ohio seem to be singing a different tune. A group of 35 Ohio House Republicans, led by Representative Ron Hood, have introduced an anti-abortion bill sure to insert the government directly in the doctor's office, if passed. Sure to make legislators an awkward third-wheel to the privileged patient-physician relationship, this House Bill 200 extends the war on women with a dual attack on abortion care-seekers and their doctors. The extensive list of restrictions on those seeking abortion care includes:

1. Mandatory ultrasounds, paid out of pocket:

Regardless of doctor's discretion and patient consent, any woman seeking an abortion would have to undergo a mandatory ultrasound. While the bill does not dictate a specific kind of ultrasound procedure (either an invasive transvaginal probe or a less-invasive abdominal scan), it does state that the image must display "the entire body of the embryo or fetus."  Because of this, women seeking abortions in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy would likely have to undergo the more invasive transvaginal ultrasound to guarantee a clear image. The patient would have to bear (pun intended) the cost of this medically unnecessary procedure, as well.

2.  Required verbal descriptions of said ultrasounds by doctors, with descriptions of an audible heartbeat, if present:

The bill notes, however, that a woman can refuse to view the ultrasound images or listen to the fetal heart monitor, if she chooses. How very gracious of our lawmakers.

3. A 48-hour waiting period, extended from a 24-hour one:

Furthermore, the "medical necessity" exemption to the current waiting period would be abolished, eliminating a woman's ability to bypass the rule due to a medical emergency.

4. Compulsory dissemination of medically disputed information by doctors:

Doctors would have to tell patients that fetuses and embryos can feel pain and that abortions increase one's risk of breast cancer, both of which are medically disputed, if not thoroughly debunked.

5. Forced revelations by doctors about their earnings from abortion procedures and loss of income from not performing abortions:

Apparently this is relevant to the necessity of the procedure …?

6. A felony charge and $1 million fine for doctors for violating any of these requirements:

Because, naturally, doctors should ultimately answer to a group of legislators with absolutely no background in the medical profession whatsoever.

With these measures, women's health and doctors' expertise is placed second to a domineering political agenda, at significant financial and emotional cost to the woman in question. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently had to issue a formal statement of policy in response to the onslaught of legislation aimed at reproductive rights. As ACOG President Dr. Jeanne A. Conry noted, "We are speaking out not just on behalf of ob-gyns, but for all physicians and patients. Many of these laws are dangerous to patients' health and safety. As physicians, we are obligated to offer the best evidence-based care to our patients. Government should stay out of imposing its political agenda on medical practice."

After all, let's not forget who has female patients' best interests at heart: not the doctor with 8+ years of training, but a group of Ohio House Republicans who apparently know what's best for all involved.

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Ola Abiose

I'm a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology.

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