Ohio Abortion Providers Now Required to Do Fetal Test That Doesn't Exist


States like Texas and Missouri have been loudly crowing for years about their success in making abortion harder and harder to access. But today, let’s take a moment to recognize, once again, the contributions Ohio has made to the cause: a thicket of confusing, burdensome, and sometimes contradictory laws and restrictions that’s left the state with just one clinic in each major city.

As NPR reports today, there’s been comparatively less attention paid to Ohio’s anti-abortion laws, which are implemented more quietly and without the self-congratulatory chest-beating that people like Governor Rick Perry of Texas are known for. But there are a hell of a lot of anti-abortion laws in Ohio these days, many implemented in just the past few years.

In 2013, the state enacted a requirement that a person seeking an abortion be forced to listen to the fetus’ heartbeat. The same year, the governor cut $1.4 million in family planning funding. By August of 2014, four of the state’s abortion clinics had closed. Now, NPR reports, that number is up to eight. Only eight facilities remain. All ambulatory surgical centers in Ohio (they perform minor surgical procedures, like an first-trimester abortion) are required to have “transfer agreements” with hospitals so that patients can be taken there if the surgery results in unexpected complications. But a newish law mandates that abortion clinics—and only abortion clinics—can’t make those transfer agreements with public hospitals, making it that much harder for them to operate legally.

Ohio also implemented a requirement that abortion providers test for viability at 20 weeks. But such a test doesn’t exist. It’s not a real thing. From NPR:

Then there’s the state’s confusing requirement for a fetal viability test after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Fetuses are generally not considered viable until several weeks later. But Dr. Lisa Perriera, an OB-GYN at Preterm, says there is no such test.
“The laws say that we have to do some kind of testing,” she says. “They don’t tell us what kind of tests to do, nor do those tests even really mean anything. It’s just another hoop to jump through.”

Americans United for Life, the group that writes model anti-abortion legislation, says Ohio ranks sixteenth in the nation’s most abortion-unfriendly climates. But they’d like to see the state do even better, recommending that they try to pass even more new restrictions, ones AUL has given euphemistic names like the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” (banning sex-selective abortion, something that doesn’t happen in the United States). Ohio Right to Life has also announced that with the help of some obliging lawmakers, they plan to try to ban all abortions after 20 weeks, as well as ban the abortion of a fetus that’s been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Bonnie McGonegle of Loveland, Ohio, rallies during the March for Life, Washington DC, 2011. Photo via Getty

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