Lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill requiring doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus or face a charge of "abortion murder", despite the fact no such medical procedure exists.
The bill, which is among the most extreme anti-abortion legislation to date, also legally recognises a fetus as an “unborn child” and proposes charging abortion providers with aggravated murder unless the procedure was necessary to save a woman’s life.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, most often on a woman’s fallopian tube. The embryo cannot survive but the growing tissue can cause life-threatening bleeding if left untreated.
It is currently medically impossible to remove and "reimplant" the embryo. However, the legislation put forward in Ohio states that doctors should take "all possible steps to preserve the life of the unborn child", including "attempting to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus".
The proposed legislation, House Bill 413, was put forward by two Republicans in Ohio’s House of Representatives and has almost 20 co-sponsors. One of its main sponsors, Representative Candice Keller, said: “The time has come to abolish abortion in its entirety and recognise that each individual has the inviolable and inalienable right to life.”
“Any provider performing an abortion by any method…will be subject to already existing murder statutes,” the lawmakers said in a statement.
It comes as a number of Republican-controlled states have enacted increasingly extreme anti-abortion bills in a bid to bring a legal challenge to abortion rights to the US Supreme Court.
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Previous versions of this bill have not received serious consideration, but this is the first such bill introduced since Ohio enacted the “heartbeat bill”, which bans abortions as early as six weeks, and anti-abortion activists are optimistic about the current bill’s success.
The proposal has drawn criticism from medical professionals in the state. Dr David Hackney, an obstetrician and gynecologist, discussed the requirement to "reimplant" ectopic embryos on Twitter, writing: “I don’t believe I’m typing this again but, that’s impossible”. “We’ll all be going to jail,” he added.