This Ohio anti-abortion bill says that ectopic pregnancies can be moved to the uterus — but that isn't scientifically possible

By Danielle Garrand

/ CBS News

Rape victim couldn't have abortion under new Ohio law

An Ohio state representative introduced a new bill last month, which aims to prohibit insurance coverage of abortions that occur where the mother's life is not "endangered if the fetus were carried to term." The bill includes exceptions, including one for a procedure that does not exist.

GOP Rep. John Becker introduced House Bill 182, which allows for two situations where insurers could offer coverage for abortion services. One is a "procedure, in an emergency situation, that is medically necessary to save the pregnant woman's life."

The other, the bill says, is a procedure for an ectopic pregnancy, "that is intended to reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman's uterus."

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In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes outside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is not a viable pregnancy and it very often can put the mother's life at risk. The pregnancy either ends in a miscarriage or is ended with drugs or surgery. "An ectopic pregnancy cannot move or be moved to the uterus, so it always requires treatment," according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The exception in the bill for an ectopic pregnancy, therefore, is not scientifically possible.

"That doesn't exist in the realm of treatment for ectopic pregnancy. You can't just re-implant. It's not a medical thing," said Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, earlier this month, according to the Statehouse News Bureau.

She also told the outlet that under this bill women would be forced to wait until the ectopic pregnancy became life-threatening to get an abortion. "This bill will have grave impacts on Ohio's infant and maternal mortality rate," Miracle said.

Becker claimed the purpose of the bill is not to lose lives, but save them."The intent is to save lives and reduce the cost of employers and employees health care insurance," Becker said.

Some doctors have also taken to social media to refute the claim that a fertilized egg can be re-implanted into the woman's uterus. "Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy cannot be 'reimplanted' into the uterus," wrote Dr. Daniel Grossman, a clinical and public health researcher on abortion and contraception, according to his Twitter bio. "We just don't have the technology. So I would suggest removing this from your bill, since it's pure science fiction."

Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy cannot be “reimplanted” into the uterus. We just don’t have the technology. So I would suggest removing this from your bill, since it’s pure science fiction.

— Dr. Daniel Grossman (@DrDGrossman) May 8, 2019

"An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency where an embryo implants outside its normal place in the uterus," tweeted Dr. Eugene Gu, a surgeon. "If it causes severe bleeding, the woman needs emergency surgery to save her life. John Becker's Ohio bill forcing women to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy is beyond crazy."

The bill also aims to make additional changes in the state, including expanding the definition of a "nontherapeutic abortion," according to the legislation's analysis. Currently, the definition of a "nontherapeutic abortion" is an "abortion that is performed or induced when the life of the mother would not be endangered if the fetus were carried to term" as well as an abortion for a pregnancy that is not the "result of rape of incest reported to a law enforcement agency." In this bill, Becker removes the rape or incest condition from the definition, meaning women who seek an abortion for a pregnancy from rape or incest would not be covered by insurance.

Also, the bill would not allow coverage for drugs or devices that "prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum."

The bill had its first hearing in the state's insurance committee on May 7 and has not yet been voted upon in the House, according to the state's House site.

Ohio is no stranger to anti-abortion legislation. In April, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the state's "heartbeat" bill, an abortion ban that would prohibit the procedure about five to six weeks into a pregnancy, before most women know that they're pregnant. The law is slated to go into effect on July 10.

First published on May 16, 2019 / 1:46 AM

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