When I flew to Honduras this year to report on the country’s total abortion ban – including in cases of rape – I couldn’t imagine that lawmakers in my home state of Ohio would propose a ban that is arguably even more extreme.
The bill, introduced in November, bans abortion entirely – unless a woman’s life is in danger – and requires doctors to attempt to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus or face charges of “abortion murder,” punishable by life in prison. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, and can be deadly.
The procedure isn’t medically possible, but the bill would require doctors to attempt the impossible or potentially face criminal charges.
The bill would also punish women and girls who have an abortion with life in prison – a shockingly severe sentence that could also land women who suffer miscarriages behind bars, as it is not always possible for doctors to tell the difference.
Studies show that when abortion is banned, abortion rates stay steady. Women simply have abortions clandestinely, often risking their own health, and sometimes their lives.
In Honduras, I met a woman who was arrested after a miscarriage because doctors suspected she had an illegal abortion. Depending on the judge’s ruling, expected early next year, she could face years behind bars.
Anti-abortion laws also harm doctors’ ability to help people. I spoke with a Honduran doctor who said she risked imprisonment for treating women who had serious complications from unsafe abortions without alerting the police.
Being able to choose when, or if, they have children allows women and girls to reach their full potential. I met women in Honduras who, having risked illegal abortions, were able to continue university studies, developing themselves before they became mothers. Another woman I met had an illegal abortion after being raped. Years later, she had a planned pregnancy and happily gave birth to a daughter. Now she defends abortion rights.
Ohio’s women deserve state laws that defend their rights. The proposed ban does the opposite, and Ohio lawmakers should stand with women and girls by opposing it.