Someone Tell This Ohio Legislator You Can’t Move Ectopic Pregnancies Into the Uterus

Ohio Rep. John Becker has sponsored a bill that defies science. 

[Photo: Representative John Becker speaks during an interview.]
Rep. John Becker's bill would remove the exception for rape and incest and would also eliminate the ability for consumers to buy supplemental coverage. That means that pregnant people in Ohio would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for the costs of a “nontherapeutic abortion." WOUBPBS / YouTube

Fresh off the heels of passing one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, lawmakers in Ohio seem eager to continue chipping away at abortion access.

Enter Ohio Rep. John Becker, aka This Fucking Guy: a Republican who has sponsored a bill that defies science. In defending his bill, Rep. Becker has claimed that contraceptives cause abortion (they don’t) and that ectopic pregnancies—in which the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, usually the fallopian tube—can be fixed by simply sticking the errant embryo into the pregnant person’s uterus.

That is not something that can be done. The medical technology does not exist. And ectopic pregnancies are not viable in the first place.

Nevertheless, that’s what’s posited in a new bill sponsored by Becker and co-sponsored by nearly one-fifth of his fellow Ohio house representatives.

In many ways, HB 182 is a standard insurance coverage ban. It prohibits health insurance companies and public benefit plans from offering coverage for “nontherapeutic abortions.” This is not uncommon: In recent years, several states have attempted to reduce access to abortion care by banning insurance companies from offering coverage for it.

In fact, insurance coverage for “nontherapeutic abortions” is already banned in Ohio. The law defines “nontherapeutic abortion” to mean “an abortion that is performed or induced when the life of the mother would not be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or when the pregnancy of the mother was not the result of rape or incest reported to a law enforcement agency.”

In addition, existing Ohio law permits insurance companies to offer abortion coverage on an individual basis—just in case you can predict needing an abortion in advance—as long as the individual pays for all of the costs, premiums, and charges associated with that supplemental abortion coverage.

But for John Becker, the existing Ohio law isn’t quite restrictive enough. His bill would remove the exception for rape and incest and would also eliminate the ability for consumers to buy supplemental coverage. That means that pregnant people in Ohio would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for the costs of a “nontherapeutic abortion”—thus making it virtually impossible for many more people to afford the procedure.

In 2013, Becker tried to pass a similar bill, HB 351, that would have stripped the right to purchase supplemental abortion coverage, but that bill failed to pass. That didn’t stop him from trying again with an even worse bill this time around.

And here’s the kicker: Becker’s bill also expands the definition of “nontherapeutic abortion” to include “drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.”

That’s almost all popular forms of birth control.

“Birth control pills, IUDs, and other methods of birth control like that—the bill states that any birth control that could act to stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus is considered an abortion under this bill,” Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said, according to a report by Cincinnati Public Radio (CPR).

That means insurance companies would be prohibited from covering the most popular forms of birth control—which, by the way, they are required to provide under the Affordable Care Act—because Becker and his anti-choice cohorts think birth control and abortion are the same thing.

Contraceptives prevent pregnancy. An abortion terminates a pregnancy. They are not the same. But anti-choice activists have spent years conflating the two because it is not enough for them to decimate abortion access; they want to decimate contraceptive access as well.

Becker claims that his bill doesn’t target birth control, according to CPR.

“When you get into the contraception and abortifacients, that’s clearly not my area of expertise but I suppose, if it were true that what we typically known as the pill would be classified as an abortifacient, then I would imagine the drug manufacturers would reformulate it so it’s no longer an abortifacient and is strictly a contraceptive,” Becker said.

You’re right about one thing, Rep. Becker. It’s clearly not your area of expertise. A drug manufacturer cannot reformulate birth control so that it’s no longer an abortifacient because it’s already not an abortifacient, you ding dong.

But it gets worse.

The bill excludes treatments for ectopic pregnancies from the insurance coverage ban, which seems like a good thing—we should try to treat ectopic pregnancies!—until you realize that Becker’s notion of treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is fucking nonsense: “Part of that treatment would be removing the embryo from the fallopian tube and then reinserting it in the uterus so that’s defined as not an abortion under this bill,” Becker said.

The bill says the term “nontherapeutic abortion” does not include a “procedure for an ectopic pregnancy, that is intended to re-implant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman’s uterus.” Presumably, Becker envisions a world where doctors are trying to “fix” ectopic pregnancies by reinserting wayward embryos into the pregnant person’s uterus.

Except that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

“That doesn’t exist in the realm of treatment for ectopic pregnancy. You can’t just re-implant. It’s not a medical thing,” said Miracle.

I asked my friend Karen, who has been an OB-GYN for 15 years, whether reinserting an embryo into the uterus is a thing: “Definitely not a thing. In fact, it’s such fucking bullshit that I might die of dumb white Christian Republican men.” (Karen is white, and she gets it.)

“It’s awful on many levels,” Karen continued, “but particularly for women whose ectopic pregnancies are wanted pregnancies who will get false hope from these dumbasses.”

Unfortunately, being a dumbass has not stopped any legislator from trying to control reproduction—and it’s unlikely to do so anytime soon.