The right-wing is frequently inconsistent in its ideology, but a new bill introduced in Ohio takes it to an extreme.
Abortion opponents frequently uphold the conception and birthing of children as a sacred act to be protected at all costs. But Ohio House Bill 704, introduced this week, works in direct contravention to that goal in a key way that seems not to have occurred to any of the Republican politicians behind it.
The bill seeks to codify "personhood" as beginning at fertilization, a long-held goal of hard-line abortion opponents that would make abortion akin to murder in any case whatsoever, and long before the state's current six-week abortion ban.
But doctors and legal experts in the state warn it would likely make fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, illegal as well because of the way the process results in high numbers of unviable embryos—or "persons" according to the bill.
Suddenly, the only method by which some are able to have children biologically—and a method popular among Republicans—would be rendered akin to murder.
\u201cOhio GOP introduces bill to ban IVF, citing a fertilized egg as a human being. This absurd bill would literally turn IVF physicians\u2014who help people start families\u2014into murderers. Meanwhile, no mention of mandated child support, tax benefits, or HOV privileges for pregnant women.\u201d— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@Qasim Rashid, Esq.) 1657637449
IVF is an infertility treatment by which embryos are fertilized in a laboratory and implanted in a patient's uterus via a medical procedure.
The process requires a large number of embryos to be created, because the majority of embryos are unviable. In IVF, these unviable embryos are either discarded or donated by the parents to be used for research.
House Bill 704 would classify each of those embryos as a person, however--even though the embryos have no ability to even implant in the uterus, let alone grow and be born. And the discarding of such embryos could be classified as murder.
Dr. Thomas Burwinkel, an OB/GYN who specializes in IVF, explained how this definition of personhood would impact medical personnel and parents during the debate period for Ohio's proposed total abortion ban, House Bill 598.
That bill, expected to go into effect this winter, seeks to establish a similar definition of "personhood."
Of that bill, Burwinkel warned:
"The definition of 'unborn child' contained in the bill leaves us to question if discarding unused embryos would be considered a criminal act."
"Our IVF practices are having enough difficulties finding trained embryologists and physicians to work with us. If the risk of going to jail is possible doing your daily job functions, are you going to work in Ohio?"
Burwinkel also warned that the bills' definition of "personhood" would place parents in the position to either face the high likelihood of an incredibly dangerous quintuplet-or-higher pregnancy, or no pregnancy at all.
"House Bill 598 may erase the dreams of many patients of becoming parents through IVF or other reproductive technologies."
On Twitter, news of the bill left people outraged and in disbelief.
\u201cAs an IVF patient, I had over 15 fertilized eggs just in one round alone. Only 3 developed enough for potential success. One of them became a living, breathing child. ONE. Out of 15 fertilized eggs. This is ridiculous and anti-science.\u201d— Amy (@Amy) 1657638029
\u201c@QasimRashid This one is going to be interesting because IVF is hugely popular among white Republican voters who struggle to get pregnant.\u201d— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@Qasim Rashid, Esq.) 1657637449
\u201c@QasimRashid Also begs the question who gets custody of the eggs? Do I have to pay rent to the fertility place for the next 18 years? Are they going to give me my eggs in a freezer bag so I can put them in the back with the baking soda? If my electric goes out, is that murder?\u201d— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@Qasim Rashid, Esq.) 1657637449
\u201c@MorganTrau @WEWS @OhioCapJournal @WCPO I don\u2019t know a lot about biology personally but Ive taken in a lot of coverage on this topic, and its amazing how far reaching these laws go. Im fairly certain the authors of the bills have no clue what they are potentially outlawing. The fallout will be much larger than expected\u201d— Morgan Trau (@Morgan Trau) 1657573979
\u201c@AgentM1 @WEWS @OhioCapJournal @WCPO I know you\u2019re asking this facetiously, but Ohio is the only state in the country without health education standards.\u201d— Morgan Trau (@Morgan Trau) 1657573979
\u201c@MorganTrau @ChiNorth55 @WEWS @OhioCapJournal @WCPO Does that mean child support starts at conception? Will men be responsible for insurance every time the mother goes in for prenatal check ups, ultrasound, sonograms, all prenatal meds?\u201d— Morgan Trau (@Morgan Trau) 1657573979
\u201cWe all know this is about banning contraception, right? \n\nThis is a way to ban the pill, IUDs, and Plan B.\n\nAND it's a violation of the Establishment Clause (since Judaism, Islam, lots of other religions & atheists don't hold that life begins at conception.)\u201d— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg) 1657644755
\u201cIVF is a medical treatment for people who WANT to have babies but who are struggling. Hearing the news from your doctor, after months and months of trying, that you might never have biological children is a major gut punch. IVF provides those families with hope. This is ghastly.\u201d— Benjamin M. Litchfield (@Benjamin M. Litchfield) 1657641445
\u201cthey want white babies but they don't want the only women who can afford IVF to have it. interesting.\u201d— in charge of the girls (@in charge of the girls) 1657640989
\u201cNever doubt that Republicans are not even close to being done with taking away people's rights.\n\nThey're NOT the party of "freedom" - they're the party of only allowing the freedoms they choose for you to have.\n\n#RepublicansAreDestroyingAmerica\u201d— KrisS \ud83d\udd25 Your Vote, Your Voice \ud83d\udd25 (@KrisS \ud83d\udd25 Your Vote, Your Voice \ud83d\udd25) 1657727566
The bill's definition of personhood may also have the effect of banning certain forms of contraception, like intra-uterine devices, or IUDs, which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus.