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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ohio Congressman Proposes Bill To Make Birth Control and "Saving Life of a Mother" Abortion Illegal

We all know about the "Hobby Lobby" Supreme Court ruling. As a citizen of the State of Ohio, I am also very interested in how the high court's decision weighs in the hearing earlier this June about Ohio HB 351, which would ban private health insurance companies from covering “abortion services” as well as coverage of abortion for public employees on the state’s health-care plan.

The bill defines “abortion services” as any drug or device “used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.” The ban does not include any exception for cases of rape or incest even if a woman’s life is in danger, and it would also ban certain forms of birth control.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati). It is similar to a new law in neighboring Michigan, which bans private companies in the state from covering abortion as a standard feature of insurance plans. However, insurance companies may offer abortion coverage that can be purchased separately. The Michigan law also does not include an exception for victims of rape or incest.

John Becker, man posing as legislator and non-doctor

The idea was labeled “rape insurance” by Democrats. In other words, there’s an expectation that you planned ahead for your unplanned pregnancy. The Ohio bill would prohibit those who would be receiving money from state or local funds from purchasing riders.

During his testimony, Becker said that it was not his intent to ban coverage of birth control and suggested that an amendment could be added to the bill to clarify the language. (But, According to Morgan Whitaker of MSNBC, Becker acknowledged the wording of the bill could potentially also ban coverage of birth control pills.)

However, Becker claimed that intrauterine devices (IUDs) should be included in the ban because he considers them a type of abortion. “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor,” Becker said.

Becker also said, “The bottom line is you have an embryo that is created. And it does (keep) that human life from being implanted in the uterus and it dies.” (It's pretty evident the legislator isn't an MD, isn't it? I don't even know exactly what this means.)

Becker said “the right to life” of the fertilized egg or fetus “trumps those other issues” and that rapists should be executed, not the human products of rape.

Many religious groups and many anti-abortion activists believe IUDs prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and are therefore equivalent to an abortion.

This is similar to comments made in May by a Kansas county commissioner who likened IUDs to murder, as the commission voted to reject state funds to provide IUDs to low-income women in the county.

Kansas is one of 10 states -- along with Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah -- that prohibit all insurance plans for state residents from covering abortion. Twenty-five states currently have laws prohibiting abortion coverage for plans on the state health exchanges. 

The proposed law also changes the definition of a “nontherapeutic abortion” to no longer exclude abortions that are performed when the a “life of the mother” would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term, or when the pregnancy is the “result of rape or incest.” Under the bill, the only exception would be for women “diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.” This is a pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity.

(Teddy Wilson. "Ohio House Committee Holds Hearing on Bill to Ban Health Insurance Coverage of Abortion." June 4, 2014.)

If Ohio bans the insurance coverage of emergency contraception and IUDs, it will violate a rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires most insurance plans to cover the full range of contraceptives at no out-of-pocket cost to women. The ban would hit lower-income women the hardest, because the cost of implanting an IUD without insurance runs anywhere from $500 to $1000.

“Every day in this state, women face the complex decision of whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child,” said Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. “When they need guidance, women turn to their family members, their faith leaders and their health-care providers. They don’t turn to their legislators. Politicians have no place in this decision-making process, and that includes using financial restrictions to force a woman’s decision.”

(Laura Bassett. "Ohio Considers Banning Birth Control And Abortion Coverage."

My Take

Ohio Republicans are continuing their obsession with birth control. Is this really what Ohio voters want the people they elected spending their time doing? Not to mention spending "our" money doing?

So, is it all right for the state to decide who lives or dies, but not a pregnant woman? I am against abortion for birth control, but I certainly believe there are times when a woman must be given the choice to abort. The issue is very personal and can be very complicated depending upon the circumstances at hand. In fact, a state government cannot possibly govern all cases.

I also do not believe IUDs or morning after pills, as birth control measures, are forms of abortion. Does this idea mean that soon any form of contraceptive will be considered abortion? If certain religious groups are given more legislative power, this might be the outcome. Abstinence is commendable as a choice for young adults, but other options need to be available for obvious health concerns.

It simply amazes me people can feel so sure about their opinions on things that don't directly pertain to them. Why do people feel they have the right to legally mandate a decision of this magnitude for someone else? Is this freedom and proper consideration of liberty? I don't believe so. Mr. Becker is not a medical doctor, just someone trying to play one with the weight of the state behind him.

Already, harsh new restrictions in Ohio don't adequately distinguish between elective abortions and medically necessary abortions, and Ohio doctors warn that it’s forcing them to withhold critical health services from their patients. Sometimes, serious fetal abnormalities aren't even evident  until women are past the legal limit for termination.

Dr. Jason Melillo, an OB-GYN who does not perform elective abortions because he is religiously opposed to the procedure, told the Columbus Dispatch that he will still refer patients to abortion services if it’s medically necessary. For instance, he had a recent patient who discovered that her fetus had a fatal chromosome condition, and he recommended that she should terminate to avoid the risk of future complications. But it was too late.

“By this point she was 27 weeks. The doctors were saying they can’t do it. There wasn’t even a medical debate about it. Everyone agreed she shouldn’t deliver but were afraid they would run afoul of this law,” Melillo explained. “What if she gets a blood clot? What if she needs a cesarean section? Now you’re putting this woman through risky medical procedures for no good reason.”

“Nobody likes to end a pregnancy for a fetal problem. But it’s worse to leave a patient without medical care because doctors are afraid of violating the law,” he continued.

Later abortion procedures are very rare, but they often occur in the most heartbreaking of circumstances: Wanted pregnancies that end up going terribly wrong. In states that have enacted bans on later abortions without adequate health exceptions, doctors have repeatedly warned that cutting off access to medically necessary abortions could end up forcing women to carry nonviable pregnancies to term, risking their health and their emotional well being.

(Tara Culp-Ressler. "Ohio's New Abortion Ban Forces Women to Continue Doomed Pregnancies Against Their Doctors' Wishes." February 11, 2014)

Where do we go from here? I am not sure, but I, for one, am sick of politicians delving into very personal matters with their so-called moral "obligations." Maybe Becker should step down from his present position and take a job at Hobby Lobby.

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