Ohio Republicans introduce bill to recognize ‘personhood’ from conception

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio House Republicans introduced a new bill Monday that physicians worry would ban in vitro fertilization (IVF).

H.B. 704, sponsored by state Rep. Gary Click, a Republican from Vickery, would recognize “personhood” from the moment of conception.

“Nothing in this section shall be interpreted in any manner that would endanger the life of a mother,” the three-sentence bill stated.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Ohio GOP wanted to change the definition of personhood.

In H.B. 598, the total abortion ban that many Republicans are expecting to go into place in the winter, specifies that an “unborn child” refers to an “individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.”

“House Bill 598 may erase the dreams of many patients of becoming parents through IVF or other reproductive technologies,” Dr. Thomas Burwinkel, an OB/GYN specializing in IVF, said during opponent testimony on May 26.

Most embryo created for IVF specifically will not survive to be implanted, Burwinkel said.

“The definition of “unborn child” contained in the bill leaves us to question if discarding unused embryos would be considered a criminal act,” he said.

Some of the embryos are non-viable, and thus discarded. Under this bill, that could be considered an abortion, the doctor continued.

“Our IVF practices are having enough difficulties finding trained embryologists and physicians to work with us,” he said. “If the risk of going to jail is possible doing your daily job functions, are you going to work in Ohio?”

There will be a “chilling” impact on Ohioans if they have to transfer multiple embryos, he said. This would lead to triplet, quadruplet, quintuplet or more pregnancies.

“These patients would not have the option under this bill to make these very high-risk pregnancies safer through the use of selective reduction,” he said. “This is a medical procedure used to reduce the number of embryos to a number that is safer for her and her fetuses.”

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Ohio House Rep. Gary Click introduced HB 704, which would give total rights to “unborn human individuals from the moment of conception.”

Recognizing “personhood” at conception already caused concern during abortion hearings. Doctors believe this could prohibit IVF. pic.twitter.com/K9o8Awn13I

— Morgan Trau (@MorganTrau) July 11, 2022