The Century-Old ‘Science Fiction’ Behind Ohio Rep’s Bill Covering Nonexistent Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment

Ohio abortion bill 5-17-19.jpg

The Century-Old ‘Science Fiction’ Behind Ohio Rep’s Bill Covering Nonexistent Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment

Ohio Rep. John Becker (R) drew widespread criticism last week for an anti-abortion bill that would allow insurance coverage for the “reimplantation” of an ectopic pregnancy into the uterus—a treatment that does not exist. Physicians and pro-choice advocates have called the line in the bill “science fiction,” but Becker told Rewire.News he does have sources to back up his claim: two articles—one more than 100 years old—with anecdotal stories from physicians who claim that “reimplanting” ectopic pregnancies into the uterus is possible.

HB 182, which Becker first introduced in April, seeks to ban almost all insurance coverage of abortions in cases where the pregnant person’s life is not endangered. It also bans coverage of what Becker called “abortifacients,” or “drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.” (This language seems based on a fundamental misunderstanding of pregnancy, medication abortion, and some forms of contraception.) Becker has saidthe intention of the bill is to “save lives” and cut costs for employers and insurers.

The bill received national attention when Dr. Daniel Grossman, an OB-GYN and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco, described ectopic pregnancies in a viral Twitter thread criticizing the bill. Ectopic pregnancies occur when a pregnancy grows outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, though Grossman wrote that they can rarely develop in the cervix or the abdomen as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, “an ectopic pregnancy can’t proceed normally. The fertilized egg can’t survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated.”

Ectopic pregnancies are the leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester.