News Abortion

Ohio Politicians Rush Anti-Choice Omnibus Bill Through First Committee Meeting

Robin Marty

HB 200, an extreme set of abortion regulations being proposed in the Ohio house, was only filed last week, but committee meetings are already being held for the bill, suggesting that it's being fast-tracked into becoming law.

HB 200, an extreme set of abortion regulations being proposed in the Ohio house, was only filed last week, but committee meetings are already being held for the bill, suggesting that it’s being fast-tracked into becoming law.

The omnibus anti-choice bill was proposed by state Rep. Ron Hood (R-Asheville) with input from the National Pro-Life Association, an extremist anti-choice group that supports a “Human Life Amendment” and would like to see spousal consent added as an abortion restriction. HB 200 would double the state’s mandatory waiting period, force pregnant people to undergo an ultrasound even if the procedure is not medically indicated, and force doctors to disclose their income to their patients. But the portion of the bill that seems to be gathering the most controversy is the script doctors would have to read to patients stating, among other falsehoods, that abortion is linked to breast cancer.

“There is no link between breast cancer and abortion. We have clear scientific evidence about this,” Dr. Robert Crane, clinical associate professor of family medicine at the Ohio State University, told in an interview. “To have physicians be forced to prevaricate lies to their patients to solve some sort of political dilemma seems a real problem.”

Unlike in Wisconsin, where doctors have openly campaigned against government interference in medicine, Ohio medical associations have not taken a public stance on the legislature’s ongoing determination to interfere with medical best practices for doctors and patients. However, Reginald Fields, the spokesman for the Ohio State Medical Association, did tell the Associated Press that “the bill’s reporting criteria would have a ‘huge impact’ on physicians.”

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Other states have passed similar scripts, and doctors have adhered to the rules, although a few have admitted that they provide patients with additional information about the “facts” the state makes them present. In Mississippi, Dr. Willie Parker has made it no secret that although he’s required to provide state-mandated information about the supposed link between abortion and breast cancer, he also tells patients that the claim is “bogus.”

The Wednesday committee meeting over HB 200, its first, lasted just 30 minutes—just a third of the time spent on a bill regarding tanning salons that occurred earlier in the day. After the meeting adjourned, stateRep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) led a press conference in which she called HB 200 “the epitome of big, intrusive, meddling government.”

“This bill not only injects politics and ideology into the doctor’s office, this bill has legislators prescribing unnecessary medical procedures to women with no say as to their wishes,” said Rep. Antonio.

Rep. Antonio also used the press conference to speak out against all of the anti-women, anti-health agenda items stuffed into the massive 2014 budget. She called the bill amendments a “continued assault on Ohio women and their access to healthcare” and said the proposals are “an effort to jeopardize the health and well-being of the women of Ohio.”

The state’s Budget Conference Committee has begun to work out the final compromises on the 2014 budget, which Republican Gov. John Kasich must sign by June 30. The governor can line-item veto any elements of the bill he chooses—for instance, a measure to defund Planned Parenthood, one to support crisis pregnancy centers with money taken from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding, and rules that would make it much easier for the state health department to close clinics that provide abortions and much more difficult for those clinics to obtain transfer agreements or variances necessary to stay open.

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