COLUMBUS — The Ohio House is advancing Senate Bill 145, a dangerous bill to outlaw a very safe and common method used in second-trimester abortions. Just like the six-week abortion ban, this bill criminalizes physicians. Both bills are unconstitutional. The move comes despite increased warnings from medical experts that persistent efforts to limit abortion access threaten the health of Ohio’s women, children and the state’s all-important healthcare economy.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “There are two unconstitutional and immoral abortion bans in the Ohio Statehouse, and both must be stopped. In their quest to eventually outlaw all abortions, backers of the six-week abortion ban and the abortion method ban are determined to create policies that will interfere with doctors practicing medicine according to the standard of care. In committee, doctors and medical students testified that they will leave Ohio if we continue to criminalize physicians. If passed, these bills will create a physician shortage that will exacerbate Ohio’s devastating maternal and infant mortality crisis, which disproportionally impacts Black women and their children.
“Policy makers should not be driving the best and brightest medical providers out of Ohio.”
Healthcare is among Ohio’s top industries, according to JobsOhio, the state’s private non-profit job creation agency. Its website boasts that Ohio has some of the best teaching hospitals and universities in America and adds, “They’re continually adding outstanding talent to Ohio’s growing health care industry, which has outpaced national healthcare employment levels for the last five years.’’
Adding new talent is a growing concern among doctors who already have chosen to practice in Ohio.
“When I try and recruit top-tier medical students who are passionate about improving women’s health, more and more of them are telling me they will not come to Ohio,’’ said Ellen Schleckman, a Cleveland native and fourth-year medical student. She made her comments last week while testifying against the six-week ban. Many fear they would be prosecuted for doing what’s best for their patients and medical students are increasingly worried they would be unable to obtain the training needed to ethically serve patients.
Dr. Anita Somani, an obstetrician and President of the Columbus Medical Association, said her own daughter is a medical student who already has decided to practice out of state. In testimony, she urged legislators to focus instead on reducing Ohio rising rate of maternal mortality and stubbornly high rate of infant deaths.
‘’Unfortunately, when you force women to carry a pregnancy conceived by rape or incest or otherwise unwanted, you also see women who will not seek prenatal care. Poor prenatal care has already been shown to worsen infant and maternal mortality,’’ Dr. Somani said.
The number of Ohio infants who die before their first birthday remains high. While deaths of white infants dropped slightly last year, Black infants died at nearly three times the rate of whites, according to a report released last Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health.
Maternal mortality in Ohio is significantly higher than the national average. In 2016, the Ohio Department of Health found that the rate of maternal mortality in Ohio was 85 women per 100,000 live births – more than three times the national average of 23.8 women per 100,000 live births. By decreasing access to safe and legal abortion, you are almost certainly increasing the risk of maternal mortality for Ohio residents, she said.