Ohio House Bill 413, legislation that would make physicians who end pregnancies guilty of “abortion murder” and introduces the charge of “aggravated abortion murder,” which carries a sentence of life in prison or even death, was introduced to the Ohio state legislature on Nov. 14. It has caused controversy over its emphasis on trying to save fetuses in the case of ectopic pregnancies.
Under the bill, physicians who perform abortions would face up to 15 years to life in prison, unless the mother’s life is in danger, or if the physician “takes all possible steps” to save the fetus’ life.
This includes ectopic pregnancies, a condition that occurs in 2% of pregnancies when a fertilized egg implants somewhere outside the uterus — usually in the fallopian tube.
If the pregnancy continues to grow and develop, the tube can rupture, and the pregnant person can face hemorrhaging and die. Typically the safest way to treat this is by terminating the pregnancy with medicine or surgery.
Obstetrician gynecologist and abortion researcher Dr. Daniel Grossman spoke out on Twitter, stating that at least 4% of maternal deaths are related to these kinds of pregnancies and that the treatment for them is terminating the pregnancy with medicine or surgery.
“An ectopic pregnancy cannot be ‘reimplanted’ into the uterus,” Grossman wrote, addressing John Becker, an Ohio Representative and supporter of the legislation. “So I would suggest removing this from your bill, since it’s pure science fiction.”
Grossman states that pro-life advocates’ spreading misinformation about the dangers of the procedure, such as one writer for The Federalist (who later apologized and retracted her statements from the article) “could lead some patients to really question the advice of their doctor and maybe wait longer before getting the necessary treatment and put their lives at risk,” in an interview with Vox.
Additionally, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists argue that pro-life physicians should end such ectopic pregnancies as “There is no chance for survival of the child, either inside or outside the womb, but there is a very real, imminent danger of death or disability for the mother.”
This comes after Alabama, Georgia and Ohio passed “heartbeat” bills that ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs six weeks into a pregnancy.
While the bills have been ruled unconstitutional and are not being enforced, it is part of anti-choice advocates’ strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. She states that the goal is for one of these bills to be challenged and eventually land in front of the conservative-majority Supreme Court.