An Ohio lawmaker admitted he hadn't researched ectopic pregnancies before proposing an abortion restriction bill

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2018 file photo, a doctor performs an ultrasound scan on a pregnant woman at a hospital in Chicago.  A new study released Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, suggests when a pregnant woman breathes in air pollution, it can travel beyond her lungs to the placenta that guards her fetus. During pregnancy, particle pollution is linked to premature births and low birth weight, but scientists don't understand why. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)

Associated Press

In this Aug. 7, 2018 photo, a doctor performs an ultrasound scan on a pregnant woman at a hospital in Chicago. A new study released Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, suggests when a pregnant woman breathes in air pollution, it can travel beyond her lungs to the placenta that guards her fetus. During pregnancy, particle pollution is linked to premature births and low birth weight, but scientists don't understand why. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)

  • As part of a Cincinnati Enquirer investigation into the proposal of an abortion restriction bill in Ohio, state Representative John Becker said he hadn't researched whether it was possible to re-implant an ectopic pregnancy before suggesting it become law to attempt to do so.
  • The procedure that would have been required as part of the new restrictions is "physiologically impossible," according to obstetricians. Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg attaches to the outside of the uterus, where it cannot grow.
  • An anti-abortion lobbyist worked closely with Becker to write the bill, the Enquirer reports, which has been criticized for its lack of medical basis. The claim that an ectopic pregnancy could be re-implanted was based on two studies from 1917 and 1980.
  • Becker told Business Insider the medical journals should be corrected if they're wrong. He told the Enquirer that he heard about the procedure over the years and "never questioned it or gave it a lot of thought."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A proposal for an Ohio abortion restriction introduced to the state's legislature in November prompted backlash for its suggestion that doctors could re-implant ectopic pregnancies - which experts say is impossible.

Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg attaches to the outside of the uterus, where it cannot grow. Anti-abortion lobbyists worked with Ohio state Representative John Becker to write a proposal that includes allowing medical insurance to cover doctors attempting to re-implant ectopic pregnancies in the uterus, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

In addition, the Enquirer reports that Becker didn't consult with doctors before proposing the new abortion restriction, part of a controversial "heartbeat bill" that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected - as early as six weeks into a pregnancy - and would consider doctors who performed illegal abortions guilty of aggravated murder.

"I heard about it over the years," Becker told the Enquirer, referring to the re-implantation procedure. "I never questioned it or gave it a lot of thought."

Becker told Business Insider that the ectopic provision "was included in the bill to allow insurance companies to cover that procedure if they choose to do so," and said just because it isn't standard procedure doesn't mean it's impossible.

But Dr. Chris Zahn, the vice president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Insider the procedure was "physiologically impossible," that attempting to perform the procedure would be extremely dangerous, and that the technology to do so doesn't exist.

The anti-abortion activists using the ectopic procedure example cite two studies that report successfully performing a re-implantation. One was cited in 1917 and the other was cited in 1980 - though a Maryland geneticist pointed out to Becker in an email that the rarely used procedure could have unknown side effects and promote false hope in women who experience ectopic pregnancies, which occur in about 2% of pregnancies.

"If the medical journals are not correct, then the profession should get those articles retracted," Becker said in an email to Business Insider.

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