Opponents Say Ohio ‘Failed Abortion’ Bill Impacts Pregnancies, Not Abortions

Dr. Erika Boothman, an OB/GYN in Columbus, says the bill “addresses a non-existent problem.”

click to enlarge Protesters of a bill to promote a total abortion ban with the overturning of Roe v. Wade demonstrate outside the Ohio Statehouse. - PHOTO: SUSAN TEBBEN, OHIO CAPITAL JOURNAL
Photo: Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal
Protesters of a bill to promote a total abortion ban with the overturning of Roe v. Wade demonstrate outside the Ohio Statehouse.

A bill involving resuscitation of infants after birth with an attachment targeting abortion providers is being criticized for the impact some say it would have on complicated but wanted pregnancies rather than on abortions.

Ohio's Senate Bill 157, a bill labeled as a measure to track and prevent potential medical malpractice in what bill sponsors call “botched abortions,” had its second hearing in House Families, Aging & Human Services Committee on Thursday.

But bill opponents argue the regulations that would be required under the bill would make physicians question what to do in tragic situations where planned or wanted pregnancies go wrong.

Dr. Erika Boothman, an OB/GYN in Columbus, told the story of a patient she had whose water broke when the baby was “pre-viable,” according to Boothman, meaning “there is no chance of successful resuscitation of the baby if she were to deliver.”

The patient was offered labor induction to avoid possible infection and have delivery in a controlled setting. Boothman explained that “comfort measures and medications” could be offered for the baby, but resuscitation efforts would not only be futile but take the baby away from the parents after birth.

“(The patient) found comfort and the possibility of closure with the opportunity to hold her baby right after the birth, to be with her baby while she passed away,” Boothman said.

Resuscitation isn’t possible in a fetus younger than 20 weeks gestation, so she said the bill “addresses a non-existent problem.”

She submitted this story with her testimony on SB 157 to the House Families, Aging & Human Services Committee on Thursday, but before the committee began she spoke in a press conference with advocates from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

“Whisking (the patient’s) baby away from her arms immediately after deliver to administer medications, perform chest compressions and attempt to put a breathing tube down her tiny throat is not what (she) or her newborn need,” Boothman said. “They need medical care guided by science and compassion, not dictated by state law.”

Under Senate Bill 157, resuscitation of any fetus born alive after an abortion is required in all cases. Pro-choice advocates and legal organizations argued that life-saving efforts are required in Ohio law already, so the bill is unnecessary.

Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL, also spoke during the committee meeting, saying ambulatory surgical facilities who provide abortions also follow the law by calling 911 and dispatching an ambulance when a hospital is needed.

She called the bill a “failed attempt to stigmatize abortion providers” for a situation that is rare if present at all.

“This is not how abortion care works, this is not how anything is done, and they’re creating this paper dragon,” Miracle said.

State data is also collected on abortions induced in the state, including complications that present themselves during the abortion (including “failed abortions”), and “failed abortions” make up very few cases, and no cases were in viable pregnancies.

Abortion is legal in Ohio up to 22 weeks gestation. The U.S. Supreme Court currently is hearing arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case involving a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The outcome could affect abortion laws in Ohio and in other states.

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.

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