Women who miscarry in Ohio will now be given propaganda intended to coerce women into giving birth, and face a 24-hour waiting period to think it over.

This is part of the same amendment that will require an ultrasound before birth control. In addition to redefining “pregnancy”, it also redefines “medical emergency”.

What to expect when you have pregnancy complications

Except in very narrow circumstances (see below), your OB-GYN will face criminal penalties if you aren’t subjected to the ICMS (Informed-Consent Mansplaining and Shaming) before he treats your miscarriage. The ICMS is generally bad enough; when you face a life-or-death decision, the ICMS is psychological torture.

If you are forced to terminate a wanted pregnancy due to a complication to your health or a fetal abnormality,

  • you will be informed the probable gestational age of the fetus and the medical risks associated with carrying to term
  • you will have to sign a form saying that you consent to the procedure “voluntarily, knowingly, intelligently, and without coercion by any person, and that [you are] not under the influence of any drug1 or alcohol”
  • you will be given a pamphlet that informs you of “the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics” of a healthy fetus at this stage of development.
  • you will be given another ultrasound (externally)
  • you will be given, in writing:
    • confirmation that the fetus has a heartbeat
    • The statistical probability of bringing a healthy fetus of this gestational age to term

Everybody gets the same pamphlet, produced by the Ohio Department of Health. Women who have cancer will be given the probability of a healthy woman giving birth. Women with anencephalic pregnancies will be given the probability of delivering a healthy baby.

John Kasich refused to veto a law that tries to convince women to sacrifice their lives bringing a doomed pregnancy to term.

John Kasich is just optimistic that you’ll pull through

Until yesterday, Ohio law allowed exceptions to the informed consent rigamarole in the event of “an immediate threat of serious risk to the… physical health of the woman from the continuation of the pregnancy.” While this verbiage wasn’t necessarily ideal, it was broad enough that doctors could practice appropriately.

With Kasich’s signature of the budget, physicians can only avoid the mandatory ultrasound “in order to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to avoid a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman that delay in the performance or inducement of the abortion would create.”

Section 2919.16(K) spells out that the conditions allowing for immediate abortion:

includes pre-eclampsia, inevitable abortion, and premature rupture of the membranes, may include, but is not limited to, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and does not include a condition related to the woman’s mental health.

These rules are incredibly narrow. Let’s compare that to Valerie Tarico’s great piece at RH Reality Check listing some possible pregnancy complications:

The list of possible complications that can maim or kill goes on and on: anemia, arrhythmia, brainstem infarction, broken tailbone or ribs, cardiopulmonary arrest, diastasis recti, eclampsia, embolism, exacerbation of epilepsy, immunosuppression, infection, gestational diabetes, gestational trophoblastic disease, hemorrhage, hypoxemia, increased intracranial pressure, mitral valve stenosis, obstetric fistula, placental abruption, postpartum depression, prolapsed uterus, severe scarring, increased spousal abuse, third or fourth degree laceration,  thrombocytopenic purpura, peripartum cardiomyopathy, and more.

I’ve bolded the conditions where the abortion can be performed without hesitation, and italicized the one where it can maybe(?) be performed. The fact that the law expressly permits it for pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes strongly implies that doctors will face charges in all other circumstances.

Before the passage of the budget, a number of OB-GYNs protested this provision. In the past, they’ve testified that it would make them hesitate before treating women. This is consciously modeled after the Irish law that resulted in the death of Savita Halappanavar.

John Kasich knew this provision was in the budget; he got 17,000 letters that asked him to remove it. He did not care. Ohio’s doctors will be legally required to try to convince women to continue a pregnancy that is likely to kill them, because John Kasich does not like women. 2014 can’t come soon enough.


1 It’s not clear what happens if you’ve been given medication for your condition. You can’t have an abortion until you sign this form…

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