By Marc Kovac
Doctors would be required to perform ultrasounds before abortions and inform women of the pain their unborn babies could feel, under legislation being considered in the Ohio House.
HB 200 also would institute a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion, require increased physician disclosure about the potential risks of the procedure and implement stiffer criminal penalties, including prison terms and fines up to $1 million, for failing to follow the proposed law changes.
“As early as five weeks, unborn babies have an audible heartbeat and recognizable features, yet abortionists hide what the visible evidence shows — that the nascent life is a baby and not a mere lump of cells,” said Rep. Ron Hood of Ashville, R-78th, primary sponsor of the legislation. “By requiring that an ultrasound be performed, described and the mother given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image, the Ultrasound Access Act could potentially save thousands of additional lives and protect mothers from making a decision they may long regret.”
HB 200 had its initial hearing before the House’s health committee Wednesday. It was introduced about a week prior and has generated criticism nationally from women’s health advocates and groups that oppose efforts to block access to abortions.
“Ohio’s anti-choice politicians are hell-bent on inserting themselves into the personal, private decisions that take place between a woman and her doctor,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said shortly after the legislation was unveiled. “The Politicians Playing Doctor Act will force women seeking abortion care to undergo invasive trans-vaginal ultrasounds. It will also impose new burdensome waiting periods and includes provisions that will require doctors to blatantly lie to their patients. To add insult to injury, this bill includes no exceptions for women experiencing medical complications, fetal anomalies or for survivors of rape or incest.”
But Hood countered that the legislation would provide women with more information before they choose to have abortions, potentially “saving tens of thousands of unborn babies” in the process.
“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,” he said, noting that more than half a dozen other states have implemented similar ultrasound requirements.
He added, “Passage of the Ultrasound Access Act would enable mothers to see the truth about the small but very alive person inside them. An ultrasound law is necessary to help protect the most defenseless among us — unborn children.”
During Wednesday’s hearing, state Rep. Bob Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, questioned the criminal penalties outlined in the bill, which could put doctors who fail to meet disclosure and waiting period requirements behind bars for a decade. Hagan said that would be longer than the teens in the Steubenville rape case, who were sentenced to about two years on their convictions.