Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More states consider ultrasound requirement

The following is a cross-post with ChoiceWords, the blog of ChoiceUSA.

Let the backlash begin!

In anticipation of a more choice-friendly administration, more state governments are considering adding new restrictions to the already difficult process of obtaining an abortion: mandatory ultrasounds.

According to the Chicago Tribune, twelve states have already considered proposals to require women to receive an ultrasound before an abortion. Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, and North Dakota are considering legislation that would require a woman to be offered an ultrasound. In Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming, a physician or counselor would be required to actually perform an ultrasound on the pregnant woman before she would be able to have an abortion (though Wyoming's proposal was defeated last week). Several of these states require a physician to physically hand an ultrasound image to the woman or force her to listen to the heartbeat.

South Carolina, which already requires women to receive ultrasounds, would increase the waiting period for abortions from one hour to one day after the ultrasound. This legislation has passed through committee and is on its way to the House floor. In addition, South Carolina legislature is considering a bill that would require women to receive a list of nearby places to receive free ultrasounds, most of which are deceptive crisis pregnancy centers where the woman will be inundated with a wealth of false and misleading medical information.

These bills send a clear message to women who are already in the process of making a decision that's anything but easy: "You don't know what you want, but we do." After all, if a woman is stupid enough to get "knocked up", how can we trust her with the decision to terminate or carry to term?

Never mind the repeated warnings from the AMA, the FDA, ACOG, and others that ultrasounds should be used sparingly and never for entertainment. In fact, it is illegal to promote ultrasounds for non-medical use, but the majority of CPCs and other anti-choice agencies have been able to fly under the radar by posing as legitimate medical facilities.

Some advocates of the restriction in South Carolina appropriate benevolent, "pro-woman" language in defending the extended waiting period: "We owe it to the women of this state to give them a 24-hour respite to think about this decision." (Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester) Because women can't decide for themselves to wait a little while without it being state-mandated?

Another issue at hand is more class-oriented. With 73% of women who have abortions citing financial reasons for choosing to terminate, it's likely a woman seeking an abortion has at least one job. Having to schedule additional visits to a clinic would be difficult if not impossible for working women. But we can't expect anti-choicers like Rep. Wendy Nanney (R-Greenville) to understand that: "Taking two days off work, I don’t think that’s asking too much."

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