Ultrasound Viewing Option Bill introduced in Ohio House (UPDATED)

If our politicians in Columbus can find a way to enact H.B. 314, the state medical board will be able to “limit, revoke, or suspend an individual’s certificate to practice, refuse to register an individual, refuse to reinstate a certificate, or reprimand or place on probation the holder of a certificate” if that individual violates this new language in the Ohio Revised Code (emphasis added by Yours Truly):

Sec. 2317.561. In addition to the requirements in section 2317.56 of the Revised Code, if an obstetric ultrasound examination is performed at any time prior to the performance or inducement of an abortion or the physician performing or inducing the abortion determines that an ultrasound examination will be performed as part of the abortion procedure, the physician shall do both of the following prior to the performance or inducement of the abortion:
    (A) Provide the pregnant woman receiving the abortion the opportunity to view the active ultrasound image of the embryo or fetus;
    (B) Offer to provide the pregnant woman with a physical picture of the ultrasound image of the embryo or fetus.
The requirements of division (A) of this section shall be performed at no additional charge to the pregnant woman.

4-dimensional ultrasoundI looked through the Ohio Revised Code for any other mentions of the word “ultrasound” and found nothing that requires an abortionist to perform one. I’d bet that the standards of practice for an Ohio Ob/Gyn require an ultrasound before an abortion, but I’ll confirm my hunch with my sister-in-law since she’s an Ob/Gyn resident.
I’ll check the Ohio Administrative Code in a bit.

Update 1: My search for the word “ultrasound” in the Ohio Administrative Code yielded 13 hits. Only the first five look like they’re worth examining. More on this later.
Update 2: I found nothing in the Ohio Administrative Code about requiring Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (a term that includes abortion clinics) to do an ultrasound before performing an abortion. Unless you choose to interpret Administrative Rule 4731-18-01(A)(1) really really broadly:

4731-18-01 Standards for surgery.
(A) The surgeon of record in an operative case shall personally:
(1) Evaluate the patient sufficiently to formulate an appropriate preoperative diagnosis;

Too general to hang your hat on, in my opinion. Now it’s on to the Ohio Medical Board Rules.
Update 3: I found nothing in the Ohio Medical Board Rules requiring an abortionist to perform a pre-abortion ultrasound. Now I’ll try the National Abortion Federation’s Clinical Policy Guidelines, which serve as the abortion industry’s self-published minimum standards of care for abortion providers. I haven’t found any comparable document published by any regulatory body or professional association in Ohio that would set the minimum standards of care for Ohio’s abortionists. Unless someone can prove me wrong, I’m forced to conclude that Ohio abortionists are governed by the NAF’s Clinical Policy Guidelines.

7 comments

  1. Jill

    How many times did you find the word “abortionist” in each of the sources you’ve been looking at?
    Sad but true story: when I had to write a legal brief that compared charter school creation to independent private school creation, it took me nearly two days to even find the ORC laws on charters. Why? Well, it was the year or the year after the law had been passed and guess what? Even though everyone who wrote about the alternative public schools called them charters, the law refers to them as community schools. Nearly 10 years ago now, in legal research tools, that one word difference was all the difference there needed to be between finding the entire chapter and coming up with zilch.

  2. Alo Konsen

    How many times did you find the word “abortionist” in each of the sources you’ve been looking at?

    The word “abortionist” isn’t in there. I use it as a more accurate and/or succinct term to describe one precise class of people covered by the legislation. It beats “physician”, “obstetrician”, “womens’ health services provider”, “evacuator of products of conception”, etc.
    It’s an accurate description of the practitioner’s occupation, much like “cardiologist” or “neurosurgeon.” If the term “abortionist” rubs you the wrong way, perhaps it’s because the act of abortion itself rubs you the wrong way.

  3. TooShort

    Throwing my two cents in, I think that the term “abortionist” relates more to a slang term (similar to referring to illegal Hispanic immigrants as “wetbacks”) than to an established occupation like “Obstetrician” or “Cardiologist.” I have issues with this legislation just because it is another example of legislators dictating to doctors what care they shall provide and how they shall provide it. As an example, let’s suppose that a patient who is undergoing an abortion to save their life is a woman who is comatose after a car accident. If a Doctor has determined that, to protect the health of the patient to the best of their ability, an ultrasound is required then by the language of this bill the doctor could lose their medical license for not providing the patient the opportunity to view the ultrasound prior to the procedure. Additionally, this could lead to Doctors just forgoing the ultrasound prior to the procedure to avoid having their license put in jeopardy, further risking the health of the patient. This is just wrong.

  4. Jill

    “If the term “abortionist” rubs you the wrong way, perhaps it’s because the act of abortion itself rubs you the wrong way.”
    The term “abortionist” doesn’t rub me at all. It’s not in my vocabulary, just as “pro-abortion” isn’t in my lingo either. I don’t actually know anyone who is pro-abortion or who uses that phrase to describe their beliefs.

  5. Alo Konsen

    TooShort, according to the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary
    abor·tion·ist (n.): one who induces abortion
    I’m being accurate.
    What’s wrong with legislation that dictates standards of medical care? Every state in the union does it.

    If a Doctor has determined that, to protect the health of the patient to the best of their ability, an ultrasound is required then by the language of this bill the doctor could lose their medical license for not providing the patient the opportunity to view the ultrasound prior to the procedure.

    Yup, that’s about the size of it.
    Your comatose woman example is covered, since an unconscious person’s consent to treatment gets handled by the person’s designated representative. That person makes decisions as if he/she is the comatose patient. The ultrasounds get shown to him/her.
    If a doctor forgoes an ultrasound when the minimum standards of care require one, then the doctor can lose his/her license. Foregoing it doesn’t automatically immunize you, so your final scenario won’t happen.

  6. TooShort

    Sorry, I’m not convinced by your argument about using the term “Abortionist.” Just because it is in the dictionary doesn’t make it acceptable. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary also has the term “wetback” with a definition:
    wet.bak (n)
    Etymology: from the practice of wading or swimming the Rio Grande where it forms the U.S.-Mexico border
    usually offensive : a Mexican who enters the United States illegally (/i)
    Proabortionist is in the dictionary too. However, I don’t know of anyone who will claim to be “Proabortion” just like I don’t know anyone who will claim to be “antibaby.” These are terms that are meant to do nothing more than to stir emotions in an already emotionally charged debate.
    As for your second point, by your own argument there are no minimum standards for conducting an ultrasound. So if a doctor chooses to provide the best care possible, but neglects to show a patient an ultrasound or is unable to show a patient an ultrasound due to limitations of the equipment, then they could lose their medical license. If a woman is unable to make medical decisions for herself, but termination of a pregnancy is the only way to save her life, forcing the doctor to show an ultrasound to an expectant father (here’s your unborn child who is going to die regardless of what happens) is like putting salt into a wound. Additionally, if the patient’s life is in jeopardy and the doctor chooses to act as the patient representative because no other choice is available, the argument can be made that the doctor was negligent. How is a doctor to prove that they complied with the requirements of the law? It’s not like ultrasound machines have counters on them to document the number of times they were used. It looks to me like the doctor’s best choice is to provide substandard care to protect themselves.

  7. Lisa Renee

    I started searching to see if the other states that had a similar law, Wisconsin as one example had some type of a dramatic decline in abortion once women were given the opportunity to view or not to view an ultrasound if one was taken prior to their having an abortion.
    In Wisconsin:
    Wisconsin’s estimated rate of abortion — 8 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 — remained the same as last year and nearly half the national rate of 15 per 1,000. The abortion rate has been declining and both sides of the abortion issue are taking credit for that, one in providing more information to prevent women from selecting abortions the other in providing more information on how to prevent pregnancy in the first place.
    It appears abortion rates in Utah were already low and were declining prior to this legislation taking place there as well. Same with Oklahoma, abortion was on the decrease prior from the statistics I saw online since 2000. Which means any declines since the ultrasound option are hard to measure given the prior decline of abortions.
    It also appears Michigan has a similar law signed by Gov Granholm in 2006 – Michigan was also already reporting a decrease in abortions prior to 2006.
    Frankly, if it is a standard practice to perform an ultrasound, forcing a woman to view an ultrasound I disagree with, offering it as an option is an easy “yes” or “no”. If a clinic doesn’t perform ultrasounds then it doesn’t appear they would have to under this legislation. I do understand the reasons behind those against this, it appears to be a way to put another obstacle in the way of those who do want to have an abortion however, given what a fetus looks like at the typical gestational period the majority of abortions are performed? I seriously doubt any woman except one that might be having second thoughts in the first place would change her mind if she opted to view the ultrasound.