Playing doctor


It would have been hard to imagine a more shameless — and unconstitutional — assault on the rights and health of women than the Draconian budget measures approved by Republican state lawmakers that would strip funds from Planned Parenthood and possibly shut down Ohio clinics that perform abortions. But just when you thought matters couldn’t get any worse, they did.

A group of House Republicans has introduced an outrageous, and illegal, bill that would force some women who seek abortions to undergo invasive and unneeded trans-vaginal ultrasound procedures. It also would impose medically unnecessary, and possibly life-threatening, waiting periods for abortions, and practically compel doctors to lie to their patients by requiring them to provide medically inaccurate information.

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The bill would set new felony penalties, carrying prison terms of as long as 11 years and fines of as much as $1 million, for violating waiting periods and notification requirements. It even forces doctors to disclose to pregnant women how much money they make from performing abortions.

Politicians playing doctor are trying to shame, intimidate, and coerce women into making a different choice about abortion. The same lawmakers who are pushing this extremist social agenda also want to defund Planned Parenthood, which often provides the only access poor women have to the kind of family planning that reduces unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

The bill would require a physician to “describe all relevant features of the ultrasound, including any audible heartbeat,’’ as well as “describe the development of fetal nerve endings.” Medical doctors have, rightly, denounced the bill. In Columbus last week, physicians said the bill would lead to practices that risk women’s health — and even their lives.

They said the bill would effectively force them to lie to their patients. It would require doctors to tell patients of medical risks supposedly associated with abortion, including breast cancer — a link medical evidence does not substantiate.

“The state medical board can dismiss a doctor for lying, yet this bill would require doctors to tell their patients something they know isn’t true,’’ Kellie Cope-land, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told The Blade’s editorial page.

Politically, Gov. John Kasich cannot afford to have his fingerprints on some of the most extreme anti-choice legislation in the nation. Nor can a governor who recently spoke eloquently, while defending his Medicaid expansion plan, about empathizing with the poor sign a bill that would brutally violate the rights of Ohio’s women, especially poor women.

This patently unconstitutional bill should never reach the governor’s desk. If it does, the only right, and smart, thing for Mr. Kasich to do is veto it.