Ohio doctors may be forced to re-implant embryos in case of ectopic pregnancies to avoid possible death penalty
As part of an update to Ohio's "heartbeat bill" that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the state's lawmakers have proposed legislation that would require doctors to reimplant embryos that occur outside of the womb, into the uterus, in case of ectopic pregnancies.
The proposal was made despite the fact that ectopic pregnancies are hardly ever viable and put a mother's life at risk.
"Politicians are legislating medical care [and] it's disturbing," Dr. Mark Werner, an OBGYN at Beaumont Hospital in West Bloomfield, Missouri, told Daily Mail. "This is really not where they should be... They're going to hurt a lot of people to try to [save] one possible pregnancy."
Anti-abortion groups and more than 20 Republican legislators, in the new bill, have proposed that a fetus be legally considered a person and doctors who perform abortions be charged with aggravated murder.
According to the March of Dimes, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, about one in every 50 pregnancies in the US is an ectopic pregnancy. In such types of pregnancies, a fertilized egg implants itself outside the mother's womb. More often than not, the implantation will take place in one of the fallopian tubes that carry eggs out of the ovaries and into the uterus.
In such cases, in which the egg gets stuck in them, it won't develop into a baby.
"Once [an egg] gets stuck in the tube, you have to get it out before the tube ruptures," he said. "The [fallopian] tube is only so small that in, eight, nine, 10 weeks, the tube will burst open and the patient could hemorrhage and die from bleeding."
If a woman is going through an ectopic pregnancy, she will usually not experience the potentially life-threatening symptoms right away. Such conditions will usually be detected by a doctor, who in turn will prescribe methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug to stops the egg from developing. As a result, the pregnancy tissue is absorbed into the woman's body.
However, failure to terminate such pregnancy will inevitably result in the rupture of the fallopian tube and emergency life-saving surgery might be required to repair or remove the tube.
Werner said that with the technology that is available today, there was no way that implantation could take place.
"I'm just trying to think how that would even work out. Right now, it's impossible," he said. "It's silly to do it now, it's like doing [medical] experiments on people."
Between 1980 and 2007, 867 expecting mothers died in the US due to ectopic pregnancies, according to a 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite the "heartbeat bill" being signed into law in April, it was struck down in July by a federal judge. According to the bill, the doctors who perform abortions of fetuses - which would be legally considered human beings as soon as a heartbeat is detected - could be charged with aggravated murder and will be eligible for punishments like the death penalty under the law.