COLUMBUS: A measure that would force women seeking an abortion to submit to an ultrasound faced strong scrutiny from lawmakers Wednesday as it was presented before a legislative committee that vets health regulations in Ohio.
Members of the House Health and Aging Committee raised several questions about the GOP-backed bill, which would also require abortion providers to tell women that the procedure increases their risk of breast cancer.
The sponsor of the measure, Rep. Ron Hood, said his bill’s ultrasound mandate is aimed at closing a loophole in existing law that requires abortion providers to show pregnant women an ultrasound should one be conducted.
The loophole gives providers “a huge incentive to simply refuse to perform an ultrasound or to attempt to talk the mother out of having one,” said Hood, R-Ashville.
The bill states that doctors would have to describe to women “all relevant features” of the fetus visible in an ultrasound image.
The bill does not specify the type of ultrasound women would be subjected to, a fact that led Democratic Rep. Dan Ramos to question whether women in early pregnancy stages would be forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, a procedure that is widely regarded as intrusive.
Ramos recalled testimony from a bill the Legislature previously considered that also aimed at curbing the state’s abortion rate. The testimony, he said, included a live ultrasound during which a technician said that the “only real way” to find a fetus during the first weeks of a pregnancy is through the invasive procedure.
During his testimony, Hood defended the provision stating that “ultrasounds not only make visible life inside the womb, but unveil the truth of the unborn child’s humanity.”