Ohio Abortion Bill Contains Unprecedented Restrictions

06/19/2013 04:03 pm ET | Updated Jun 20, 2013

The Ohio House of Representatives is considering an anti-abortion omnibus bill that would force doctors to tell their patients how much personal income they would lose if they did not perform abortions.

The bill also makes ultrasounds mandatory for any woman seeking an abortion, requires doctors to give women medically disputed information about pain felt by fetuses and mention the debunked link between abortion and breast cancer, lengthens the mandatory waiting period before an abortion, and threatens physicians with a felony and an unprecedented fine of up to $1 million if they fail to comply with the laws.

"There are far too many stories of mothers under the negligent care of abortionists eager to perform abortions on mothers without even confirming a woman's pregnancy," state Rep. Ron Hood (R), the sponsor of the bill, said at a Wednesday hearing. "Abortion procedures are costly. And the providers who rush into performing abortions without confirming a pregnancy stand to gain financially."

Under current Ohio law, doctors are not required to conduct ultrasounds but must show their patients the ultrasound images if they do. Hood's bill, House Bill 200, would require doctors to perform an ultrasound, show it to the mother and give her a detailed description of "all relevant features" of the fetus and its ability to feel pain. (Whether fetuses can feel pain is disputed.)

The bill expands Ohio's mandatory waiting period from 24 to 48 hours and prohibits doctors from waiving that waiting period in cases of medical emergency. It would also require doctors to give women a conflict of interest disclaimer stating their gross income from the previous year, the percentage of that income that came from performing abortions, and the specific amount of money they would lose if the woman decided to carry her pregnancy to term.

Jordan Goldberg, state advocacy counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the bill is unmatched in its scope. "I've never seen anything like this bill before," she told The Huffington Post. "It's a felony if you fail to force a woman to listen to her ultrasound or give her a conflict of interest disclaimer designed to make a doctor look like he's doing this for the wrong reasons? It's illogical and intended to demonize doctors who provide this essential care, as if they're not legitimate in the way that other doctors are."

Hood said the bill would close a "loophole" that allows abortion providers to opt out of conducting an ultrasound when it is medically unnecessary. He told his colleagues the story of a woman named "Mary" who decided against having an abortion after her ultrasound technician made a comment about the fetus appearing to play the piano in the womb.

"It was then that the technician sensed a prompting from the Lord to ask Mary if she plays the piano," Hood said. "After a slight hesitation, fearing that she would sound ridiculous, the technician did ask her and watched as a tear slid down her face."

Months after "Mary" opted against the abortion, Hood said, she returned to the office with a baby and thanked the technician. "Unbeknownst to the technician at the time of her ultrasound, Mary was heavy into drugs," Hood said. "She said to the technician while holding her precious little girl, 'She saved my life. I'm clean.'"

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