H.B. 333, which was introduced by State Rep. Dan Stewart (D, Columbus) in October, has been advancing in the Ohio House Health Committee. A hearing was held for proponents of the bill on February 24 and the bill is scheduled for proponent, opponent and interested party testimony on Wednesday, March 3.
The bill tramples on the conscience rights of medical professionals and religious hospitals.
Under H.B. 333:
- Hospital emergency rooms, including those at religiously-affiliated hospitals, are required to provide the morning-after pill (referred to as “emergency contraception”) to victims of sexual assault.
- Hospitals would be required to inform the women that emergency contraception “does not cause an abortion” or “interrupt an established pregnancy”. (Because “emergency contraception” in some cases may cause the death of an early human embryo by preventing implantation after fertilization has occurred, this information would be very misleading to any pro-life person who believes that life begins at fertilization.)
- If a hospital violates these requirements, the Department of Health can impose a civil penalty of at least $10,000 with no limit on the maximum penalty. If there is a second violation, the State can seek an injunction to close the hospital.
H.B. 333 – Key Arguments
- The bill violates the conscience rights of pro-life health care workers and religiously-affiliated hospitals by forcing them to distribute the morning-after pill, which, in some cases, might cause the death of a living human embryo.
- The State of Ohio should not coerce health care providers into violating their religious and moral objections against ending a human life.
- The bill requires hospital emergency rooms to give women misleading information that the morning-after pill does not cause an abortion or interrupt an “established pregnancy”.
- This information would only be relevant in obtaining the informed consent of persons who had moral concerns about abortion, and those are precisely the persons who are most likely to be misled by it.
- Although supporters of this bill claim to be “pro-choice”, their bill would deny pro-life people in the health care professions the “freedom to choose” not to participate in the destruction of human life.
- This bill would require health care providers to violate the original Hippocratic Oath which stated: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.”
- If the State of Ohio decides that the desire for immediate access to the morning-after pill for rape victims requires health care providers and facilities to provide it despite their moral objections, it will set a precedent for using a similar argument to require health care providers and facilities to provide surgical abortions.
- The morning-after pill is already widely available at many pharmacies (over-the-counter for adults and by prescription for minors under age 17), yet the proponents of this bill want to force even pro-life hospitals to dispense it.
- Although proponents of the bill claim it is needed to improve access to health care, the bill allows the State to close a hospital for failing to distribute the morning-after pill. How would closing a hospital improve access to health care for anyone?