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Government and Politics

New Ohio House bill would limit abortions, charge doctors with felonies
Bill requires ultrasounds, doctors to reveal what they make from abortions, 48 hours waiting period

Jo Ingles
Ohio Rep. Ron Hood's bill would require ultrasounds, extend waiting periods and make doctors tell patients what they make from abortions.
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In The Region:
Two controversial bills backed by abortion opponents are making their way through the state budget process.

Now, there's a free-standing bill in the Ohio Legislature that would limit and enact new rules for abortions performed in the state. Backers say it would reduce the number of abortions in Ohio. Opponents say it will deny women their constitutional rights and dictate questionable health practices and information.

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Republican State Rep. Ron Hood does not mince words when it comes to what he wants to accomplish: “To attempt to reduce the number of abortions in the state of Ohio."

One provision of Hood’s bill would require doctors to perform ultrasounds on pregnant women before they do abortions.

“The bill does not require any specific form of the ultrasound," Hood says. "The bill simply states an ultrasound needs to be shown where the baby can be seen and that you clearly see that it is a baby and not just the claim that it is a clump of cells.”

Money matters
The bill also mandates the ultrasound allow a woman to hear an audible heartbeat. And while the bill does not specifically mention the type of ultrasound that must be performed, some doctors say those features can only be detected with a more invasive and more expensive transvaginal ultrasound as opposed to the type that is conducted outside a woman’s body. 

That could make abortions more expensive and that expense would be passed on to the abortion provider and ultimately to the pregnant woman. And that's not the only part of the bill that has to do with money. Hood's bill would mandate that doctors tell women what they will earn from performing the procedure.

“The abortion industry is a cash-cow industry and we believe this is very important that the mother knows this -- that there is huge incentive for the abortionist, financially,” Hood says.

The bill would increase from 24 to 48 hours a waiting period for a woman to have an abortion, and would limit medical exceptions to that waiver. And Hood's bill requires doctors to describe, in writing to the patient, medical risks including infection, infertility, hemorrhage and increased risk of breast cancer. 

Information or misinformation?
The American Cancer Society takes issue with that last proviso, saying scientific evidence does not support the argument that abortion raises the risk of breast or any other type of cancer.

Kellie Copeland with NARAL Ohio says this bill is not about making sure women are fully informed about abortion procedures. And she says it is not about reducing the number of abortions.

“The majority of women who have abortion care already have children," Copeland says. And "Ohio’s abortion providers provide excellent medical care and information to these women.

"This is about shaming women, putting up barriers to make it impossible for them to access safe, legal medical care. You know, if they really wanted to reduce the number of abortions, they would work with us to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.”

Possible medical risks
Copeland says if this bill passes, the health and lives of Ohio women will be at risk.

“It’s going to set up a situation where doctors are afraid to act and do a procedure where a woman’s health is compromised," Copeland says. "They are going to have to wait until she’s sick enough that she could die. And that’s a really scary situation for Ohio women because sometimes, as we know from a recent case in Ireland, you wait too long and it’s too late.”

The case in Ireland involved a 31-year-old woman who died after a miscarriage. A team of medical investigators found that by the time doctors determined the fetal heartbeat had stopped and had removed the fetus, the woman’s infection from a ruptured uterus have already reached lethal levels.

Copeland says the Ohio bill treats every woman and her pregnancy the same way but she cautions not every pregnant woman faces the same situation.

“It’s politicians playing doctors," Copeland says. "They are prescribing invasive transvaginal ultrasounds. They are telling doctors that they have to blatantly lie to their patients. They are imposing longer waiting periods. You know, if these guys want to be doctors, they should go to medical school, not run for office.”

The abortion bill is scheduled for a committee hearing in a few days.

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