Two bills currently making their way through state legislatures in Pennsylvania and Ohio aim to place new, sometimes medically-impossible, restrictions on pregnant bodies.
In Ohio, Republican legislators are pushing a bill that would require doctors attempt to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the women’s uterus,” a procedure that does not exist because it is not medically possible. An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition where an egg implants in the fallopian tube rather than the uterus.
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As Dr. Chris Zahn, vice president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told the Guardian, “There is no procedure to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy. It is not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy from a fallopian tube, or anywhere else it might have implanted, to the uterus.” He added, “Reimplantation is not physiologically possible.”
The Ohio bill would also outlaw abortion and add new crimes, “abortion murder” and “aggravated abortion murder” to its laws to punish doctors who perform abortions. According to the proposed bill, aggravated abortion murder would be punishable by death. Ohio already has a six week abortion ban on the books.
In Pennsylvania, anti-choice legislators have passed a bill that would require burials or cremation for fetal remains from any time in a pregnancy after conception. The law currently requires burials or cremation for fetuses after 16 weeks of gestation, but the new law would apply to “expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, which shows no evidence of life after the expulsion or extraction,” meaning it could effectively apply to fertilized eggs that are not yet a fetus, including frozen fertilized eggs from IVF. The law would put the onus on medical providers to properly dispose of the remains, unless the mother states she will dispose of them on her own, or face fines ranging from $50-300 or up to 30 days in prison.
But, like Ohio’s bill, it’s a somewhat absurd proposition when you look at the science. Most of the time, fertilized eggs do not implant and are passed without the person even knowing it’s happening.
While the Pennsylvania bill does not state a death certificate is required for a fetus or un-implanted egg, Christine Castro, staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project in Pennsylvania, told Vice it implicitly does, saying, “The bill is written in a misleading way. No, it does not explicitly mandate a death certificate. [But] it explicitly mandates a burial permit, and you need a death certificate to obtain a burial permit.” Castro likened the bill to a Russian nesting doll, saying, “You have to keep unpacking it to see what’s really inside.” Those death certificates would then be filed in a state database.
According to Democratic Pennsylvania state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, the bill is just a cover for further restricting access to abortion. She told PennLive.com, “I believe this bill imposes mandates on religious rituals on people. That’s not something we should be doing. I believe it’s a dangerous step in restricting abortion in Pennsylvania by increasing the cost of a procedure and adding funeral expenses as well as being an attempt to shame people. I think this is a back-door approach to limit access to abortion.”
The bill could also further traumatize those already suffering the effects of a miscarriage. “We received heartfelt emails from women telling us about their early miscarriages, how difficult they were, and how much worse it would have been were they forced to get a death certificate for a pregnancy that they understood so differently,” Democratic state Rep. Dan Frankel told PennLive.com. “It’s simply wrong to tell women what a loss of pregnancy is supposed to mean to them.”
These proposed laws are further proof that lawmakers are dismissing science in favor of religious fervor and controlling pregnant bodies. And they’re all part of conservative attempts to give Roe v. Wade a slow legislative death via the states. But, as practicing OB/GYN Jennifer Conti told Vice, “You can’t arbitrarily choose when and when not to apply facts. Science is science and embryos are cells of potential, not definitive life.”
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