On the heels of Ohio’s new Heartbeat Bill, which bans abortion after six weeks, there’s a new proposal that would prohibit most private insurance companies from paying for what the bill’s sponsors define as “non-therapeutic” abortions.

House Bill 182, sponsored by state Rep. John Becker and Tom Brinkman, chair of the House Insurance Committee, makes no exception for rape or incest and would allow private insurance to cover an abortion only if a woman’s life were endangered by a tubal pregnancy.

It also would outlaw existing policy that allows women to pay for separate insurance riders that cover abortion services.

The bill also would prohibit private insurance from paying for any form of birth control that could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, such as birth control pills and IUDs.

Becker told reporters the bill doesn’t target birth control, per se, except in the case of abortifacients, and that perhaps pharmaceutical companies would be willing to reformulate their products so they wouldn’t be classified as such.

The same companies that operate with impunity, whether they’re flooding communities with opioids or jacking the cost of insulin by 400 percent? Sure, they’ll listen.
We’re No. 1

The bill also contains a measure requiring the re-insertion of embryos from tubal, or ectopic, pregnancies into the uterus. No medical technology exists to “replant” ectopic embryos, however, so apparently some wizardry will be involved.

Also, any physician seeking reimbursement for performing such an abortion would have to certify it was a therapeutic procedure.

Supporters of House Bill 182 say its purpose is to keep women safe, but it completely sidesteps the issue of maternal mortality.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is flailing in its ability to stop pregnant women from dying. Among industrialized nations, the U.S. has the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the world.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reports that the maternal mortality rate has increased in the U.S., even as it has fallen France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Here’s your national emergency.
Sugar cookies

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 60% of all maternal deaths are “completely preventable.” An average of 700 women die every year from maternity-related complications. Thirty-three percent die immediately after delivery, 36% die within a week and 30% die within a year.

One of the biggest factors is lack of access to health care. Some states are taking advantage of a loophole in the Affordable Care Act, which requires Medicaid coverage for low-income women while they’re pregnant but not after birth. So, 60 days after they deliver, new mothers can be dropped from coverage.

It frequently is cited that 1 in 3 abortions involve a black woman. But black women also are four times more likely to die from childbirth than whites.

Only one state is reversing the trend of maternal mortality: California, which has cut its rate 55% by creating a Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, which provides “tool kits” to help hospitals and providers to respond to obstetric emergencies.

California’s program works in partnership with the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, a federally funded, “national data-driven maternal safety and quality improvement initiative” that offers emergency protocols and best practices as recommended by the nation’s top obstetrics physicians. At least 18 states have joined AIM, and 13 more states, have applied to join it.

In 2010, Ohio created a Pregnancy-Associated Review Mortality Review Board, which has trained personnel in 14 hospitals and offers a webinar series, but has yet to publish a report on its findings.

House Bill 235, a law to make the sugar cookie Ohio’s “official” cookie, is making its way through the legislative process, but weirdly, few people in Columbus seem to be waving bills to keep new mothers safe.

-- Reach Charita at 330-580-8313.