Ultrasound Before Abortion: A Wasteful Bullying Tactic


Eleven states are considering bills that would make ultrasounds mandatory for women seeking abortions.

So instead of spending money on the development and distribution of contraception, on education, and on the support of women who choose to go through with unplanned pregnancies, someone is going to be spending money on ultrasounds. Ultrasound is a technology capable of great good: monitoring pregnancy, treating cancer, and helping to dissolve scar tissue. The technicians and doctors who would be involved in this mandatory imaging are probably interested in knowing exactly why their services will be required for women who didn’t ask for it.

Here’s Senator Tony Fulton, Republican of Nebraska: "If we can provide information to a mother who is in a desperate situation – information about what she’s about to choose; information about the reality inside her womb – then this is going to reduce the number of abortions," Fulton said.

I think we can be pretty sure that a woman about to have an abortion is aware of what’s inside her womb. And in case she’s not, the doctors who counsel her before the abortion are perfectly capable of telling her. By adding another step, Fulton and the other lawmakers championing these bills are implying that they have some insight to offer in the medical process.

By requiring that a woman go through an additional medical procedure solely for the purpose of telling her what she already knows – that she’s pregnant – these bills are wasteful and offensive to medical providers.

I wonder what Douglas Kmiec and other “Common Ground” voices would say about this. Is this bill a step toward “addressing teenage pregnancy and the circumstances that promote the tragic moral choice of the taking of unborn life”? This bill hits women in the doctor’s office, after they’ve already decided to have an abortion. They have taken stock of their lives, their social, emotional, and economic “circumstances,” and they’ve decided that abortion is the best option for them. Having an ultrasound and hearing a description of the fetus does not change these circumstances. It does nothing to make the pregnancy easier to bear and it certainly does nothing to make contraception more accessible to this woman in the future.

The legislators behind these bills are arrogant in assuming they have something to say to a woman about her “womb.” There’s no doubt that, as a woman, it’s hard to predict how you’ll feel after an abortion. But an image of the fetus sheds no light on the decision and adds nothing to the emotional process. On the other hand, having a cadre of politicians take this image by force does add something to the experience: the sense of having been intimidated, assumed stupid, and even violated.  

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  • invalid-0

    The purpose is not to tell her that she’s pregnant. The purpose is to tell her what she’s gestating– a human fetus.

    Countless of women have gone through abortions without knownig what a fetus looks like because THEY’VE said so, but the feminists have not listened.

    When I underwent laser eye surgery, they told me every detail. I had to sign an 8-page consent form (every page!) Sometimes I had to initial sentences line by line.

    The information in the ultrasound can make a woman change her mind. She should have all the facts, but you seem to be against her having all the facts.

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com invalid-0

    Wow, so you want pregnant women to have ultrasounds in case they’re carrying something other than a human fetus? That’s the fact you’re worried about? I don’t think we’ve had a lot of non-human fetuses aborted recently, unless I’m REALLY not up on the news.

    Why do I get the impression that it’s not the facts you want women to get but a feeling or a reaction?

  • http://fooberman.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Just come right out and say it: the ultrasound biases a woman’s choice. It is widely acknowledged by both pro-choice and pro-life alike that the widespread use of ultrasounds has had a depressing effect on the rate of abortion.

    And this is bad?? Presumably we’re only talking about elective abortions; if the abortion were medically necessary, there is no choice to speak of, the ultrasound could not make any difference. It can only influence the woman has discretion, and thus it cannot negatively impact her health. So, aren’t these the abortions that are supposed to be rare, as in “safe, legal, and rare?”

    Why is providing all available information about contraception and “options” ethically mandatory, but providing all available information about her state of pregnancy not?

    Finally, to consider this – provision of concrete information from a medical instrument – to be a form of coercion is ridiculous; an ultrasound is not “propaganda”, it is medical imaging. Your brochures are propaganda.

    The fact is, you don’t want abortion to be rare. You don’t want women to be discouraged, even by medical information.

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    I think we can be pretty sure that a woman about to have an abortion is aware of what’s inside her womb. And in case she’s not, the doctors who counsel her before the abortion are perfectly capable of telling her.

    Sycloria Williams said this after her “botched abortion”: “They never said anything to me that would make me think it was a baby. They never said anything like baby, fetus. Nothing. They only said things like ‘termination’ and ‘pregnancy’ and ‘termination of pregnancy,’” she said. “They cheated me because they didn’t tell me everything and the doctor wasn’t there.” http://www.thefloridacatholic.org/mia/2009_mia/2009_miaarticles/20090205_mia_shanice.php

    How many dentists use xrays to educate their patients before they do a root canal or pull a tooth? How many surgeons use diagrams to explain surgery to people? How about xrays to explain broken bones? Why do doctors do this so often?

    Because SHOWING something to someone gets the facts across much better than telling them. Notice, I said facts. You seem to be implying that showing women ultrasounds is simply a cheap emotional ploy that could change the mind of the mother. The reality is that ultrasounds can change the mother’s understanding of the FACTS, which may (or may not) change her mind and her emotions.

    Let me ask you this, who is REALLY assuming the woman is stupid? Those of us who believe she is smart enough to learn something from the ultrasound and make an informed, intelligent decision (isn’t this what the pro-choice movement is all about?), or those of you who believe that after looking at detailed images and video that show movement, figures, toes, mouths, they will learn nothing?

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Why do I get the impression that it’s not the facts you want women to get but a feeling or a reaction?
    Because that’s the lie you’ve learned to repeat whenever this topic comes up.
    If you really read Anon’s post, you’d realize he or she wants the mother to get all the facts first. Oh, and just because an ultrasound conveys information visually rather than verbally doesn’t mean that it is not factual information. The fetus moves, it has arms, legs, hands, feet, a mouth, eyes… etc etc. These are facts.
    To suggest that Anon wanted to make sure that women knew they weren’t growing puppies in their bellies is ridiculous (and thats putting it mildly).

  • harry834

    would watching a video of a heart surgery be necessary facts for a person considering heart surgery (or some other procedure)?

  • harry834

    I don’t necessarilly want this to "win" for our side, but hopefully add more.

     

    I’ve often asked myself "why fear an ultrasound?" But my question on heart surgery above does seem to suggest that a video of the procedure is unnecessary addition to the needed facts.

    Unless some people have a different view…

     

  • harry834

    an optional ultrasound?

  • invalid-0

    There is absolutely no scientific research or evidence that ultrasounds change the mind of women who are seeking an abortion. In fact the anecdotal evidence from abortion clinics shows just the opposite. See in RH Reality Check.

    • invalid-0

      C.Cooper’s statement was: “There is absolutely no scientific research or evidence that ultrasounds change the mind of women who are seeking an abortion. In fact the anecdotal evidence from abortion clinics shows just the opposite.”

      I suggest you research your claims before spouting them out. The reality is, an ultrasound is one piece of the EDUCATED, informed decision, which is what we have all agreed, is in the best interest of the individual in any situation. Check out http://www.the-tidings.com/2008/080108/ultrasound.htm

      In this article, you’ll read the following:

      “Dr. Eric J. Keroack, then medical director of five centers run by A Woman’s Concern in Massachusetts, studied the cases of 436 women considering abortion between October 2000 and April 2002 at a center in Revere and whose outcomes could be traced.

      Of those who were considered “abortion-vulnerable” — that is, facing obstacles that they may feel incapable of or unwilling to handle but who had not yet decided to abort — 75.5 percent decided not to have an abortion after viewing the ultrasound of her unborn baby, while 24.5 percent went ahead with an abortion.

      “We also observed that during the utilization of these technical advances, our clients frequently demonstrated bonding responses to their pregnancies as well,” Keroack wrote in a letter to colleagues about the study. “Our examinations were not performed with the intention of creating such responses; they were performed in a fashion consistent with accepted medical standards for diagnostic ultrasonography.”

      Keroack, who later served briefly as director of the Office of Population Affairs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, compared those figures to a similar study group from July 1998 to December 1999, before the center had an ultrasound machine.

      The statistics were nearly reversed. Of the 344 “abortion-vulnerable” women whose cases were studied and whose outcomes could be determined, 61 percent decided after counseling at the Revere center to go ahead with an abortion, while 33.7 percent decided not to have an abortion.

      Keroack’s study concluded: “The ability to decide one’s direction in an unplanned pregnancy is the foundational theory of the ‘pro-choice’ supporters. Allowing a patient to view her ultrasound examination implies respect for the dignity and autonomy of a patient, and her ability to participate wisely in her own plan of care.”

  • http://www.turntheclockforward.org/ invalid-0

    I’ve had pro-choice people tell me many, many times that it’s up to each individual woman to decide whether she considers the fetus she’s carrying to be a person with value. (I think that’s a crappy argument, but a lot of people seem to like it.) Well, on what basis is she supposed to decide that?

    I think we can be pretty sure that a woman about to have an abortion is aware of what’s inside her womb.

    I don’t think we can be pretty sure that every woman about to have an abortion is educated about fetal development, no.

    And in case she’s not, the doctors who counsel her before the abortion are perfectly capable of telling her.

    Telling her what, exactly? “Don’t be stupid, it’s only blood.”? “It’s just tissue at this time.”?

    What would you think of legislation that required an ultrasound to be offered to the woman, but didn’t require her to have it?

  • invalid-0

    By the way, I wonder, will viewing the ultrasound images do anything positive for the woman who decides to proceed with the abortion?

  • invalid-0

    Ultrasounds are useful. In imaging, they are useful to tell a doctor and patient what, precisely, the issue or problem is (like to use in a heart surgery scenario), or to tell for sure what is in what position in a late-term pregnancy so that informed medical decisions can be made to turn a foetus, perform a scheduled c-section, be prepared for a multiple birth, and so forth. They also cost money, and there is a finite number of such machines and technicians.

    Why spend them on a foetus that is about to be aborted? Then, delay or not use them for desired pregnancies or surgeries or to dissolve scar tissue?

    This is ludicrous.

  • invalid-0

    But an image of the fetus sheds no light on the decision and adds nothing to the emotional process.

    How do you know?

  • mellankelly1

    By the way, I wonder, will viewing the ultrasound images do anything positive for the woman who decides to proceed with the abortion?

    I can only speak for myself, but viewing an ultrasound made no impression whatsoever on me.  Having already gestated a pregnancy and given birth to a child (as 60% of women who terminate a pregnancy have) I was well aware of what an ultrasound image looked like at many different stages of a pregnancy.  Like I said, I can only speak for myself but I was well aware of what it meant to end my pregnancy: I would not be pregnant any longer and would not give birth to a child.  That’s kind of the point, right?  Are we now going to force women to watch video’s of joyful toddlers before we allow them to terminate thier pregnancies?  Or force women to watch video’s of miserable families and neglected children prior to allowing them to gestate and give birth?

  • invalid-0

    It doesn’t change one mind, people know what they are doing, getting rid of a burden, and pictures do nothing, considering most ( over 90%) of abortions happen in the first trimester when there are no appendages. But in any case, if a woman doesn’t want a pregnancy, it just wastes her time because she will abort anyway. Also, we need to pass the FOCA, so that all of the unneccessary crap that anti-choicers like you try to use to block a woman’s God and law given right of freedom to end an unwanted pregnancy, can’t try to block or end that right. Abortion will ALWAYS exist, so why should women have to die if she wants to keep her freedom, which could happen if abortion was made illegal. Why do you hate women so much??

  • invalid-0

    This is yet another bill that treats women like stupid idiots who cannot be trusted to make their own decisions. Ultrasounds pre-termination have always been available – if the woman asked for one. Making ultrasounds mandatory is a blatant attempt to undercut women. It’s sneaking anti-choice politics in through the back door. It’s designed to waste time, money and resources. It will disproportionately affect low-income women who might not be able to afford the additional cost of an ultrasound, extended leave from work to make time for the extra, unnecessary procedures, it will force women who have to travel state lines to find a clinic into spending more money, time and effort to just end a pregnancy free of coercion.

    It will be cruel to rape survivors, who do not need to be reminded by forced breeders that she is pregnant by a rapist. It treats women like children, and thinks that if they see an half-formed leg or some shit, that they’ll resume their rightful place as broodmares and stop being uppity.

    It’s not about “life”. It never has been. The view of breeding as being made of rainbows, sunshine and fairy farts is thrown up to disguise the fact the patriarchy and it’s colluders do not think women should be allowed to make their own decisions, free of coercion and bullshit.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t believe ultrasounds have any effect on a woman’s abortion decision. I had an abortion in the mid-80′s and they used ultrasound then (as they do now) to accurately date your pregnancy before performing the abortion. I saw the image, not because they FORCED me to, but because I chose to. Istill went ahead with the abortion.

    In the early 90′s I had several ultrasounds during another pregnancy which I took to term resulting in my lovely daughter. I saw the images then too, and though it was a very difficult and dangerous pregnancy for me, chose to continue the pregnancy if I could. I sat in the hospital with her and her father after the birth marveling that we had created life, one that was very much wanted.

    Three months after my daughter’s birth, I became pregnant again. I had another abortion, viewed the ultrasound, fully realizing that having an abortion meant I wouldn’t have another BABY which was what I wanted. I still went through with it, fully cognizant that it meant I wouldn’t have a baby or continuing the pregnancy meant I would have another baby, as most women do. Especially more women that already have children have abortions than do women who don’t already have children.

    I’m confused that somehow, the meaning pregnancy/birth/abortion, something that WOMEN have been doing since the human race has existed, needs to now, in 2009, be explained to them. Uh, huh, right, especially given that abortion has existed for just as long. The human race depends on WOMEN having babies, yet these very same women somehow suddenly become stupid when confronted with an unwanted pregnancy and just don’t connect an abortion with NOT having a baby. Just, really??

  • invalid-0

    What’s strange is this- when I had to drive a thousand miles to get an abortion in my sixth month, they did ultrasounds, but refused to tell me the sex. I didn’t ask, but they informed me that had I asked, they were required to keep it private. I wasn’t angry, but I should have been. Why are they allowed to know what’s going on inside me when I am not?

    I am all for ultrasounds, and disclosing information! Mandatory ultrasounds simply to make sure the abortion will go smoothly is okay with me. Mandatory reporting of what is on the ultrasounds is illogical. Give the woman the information she asks for, and if she doesn’t ask, don’t require by law for her to know. I know this may seem like a contradiction, but I hope people understand what I mean. All tests should be performed, to ensure utmost care. But that isn’t what is behind this…

    Such a double standard issue.

  • invalid-0

    They show the ultrasounds and other scans and measurements they make. In fact, they often do have movies of the procedure.

    In the case of an abortion, the ultrasound is being done, anyway, to measure the age of the baby and check out the position of the placenta, etc. Just as your cardiac surgeon did an echocardiogram or catheterization and shows you the films or stills.

  • invalid-0

    can you see the future or speak for all women?

    “But an image of the fetus sheds no light on the decision and adds nothing to the emotional process”

    How do you know? If this saved one abortion, would it be worth it? or would that woman just be a failure for giving in and somehow another victim of the ‘patriarchy’/george bush/the religious right…and any other group that is to blame whenever a woman does something that does not fit the model.

  • invalid-0

    You’re referring to a study performed by an anti-contraceptive advocate, referenced on the Web site of a Catholic archdiocese. Are you trying to be funny?

    Oh… and these ultrasound laws are not about “allowing” a women to see her ultrasound. When an ultrasound is part of the abortion process, it is customary for the doctor to ask if the woman wants to see it. No, these laws are about requiring the ultrasound to be presented to the woman, whether she wants to see it or not. Big difference.

  • http://ultrasoundmachines.blogspot.com/ invalid-0

    Although ultrasound machines are generally considered safe and non-invasive tools, people are worried about the effects of radiation and the other side effects and negative possibilities that may be done on infants during sonograms. There isn’t any right or wrong answer for this. It all depends on how individuals think.

  • invalid-0

    I think the point of having a woman see an ultrasound before having an abortion is that for many years, women have been told that it’s ok to have an abortion because it’s not really a child they are killing but just a blob of tissue. Many women have been traumatized when they later realized what they had done, and felt lied to by the abortion industry (who, BTW, are in business to make money by selling abortions), who, whether well-meaning or deceptively, have “reassured” women by telling them that it’s just a blob of tissue being removed. As Horton (Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss) says, “a person is a person, no matter how small…”. Seeing an ultrasound simply prevents a scared young woman from being persuaded to do something without having all the facts at her disposal. How can having more facts and information be a bad thing? Why would anyone want to deny giving all information possible to someone making such a critical decision, if not to deceive them in some way?

  • colleen

    “How can having more facts and information be a bad thing? Why would anyone want to deny giving all information possible to someone making such a critical decision, if not to deceive them in some way?”

    So your argument is that women who don’t wish to have a child and want an abortion are all retarded and easily manipulated?

  • invalid-0

    Seeing an ultrasound simply prevents a scared young woman from being persuaded to do something without having all the facts at her disposal.

    Earth to Anonymous: Women are not the blithering idiots (who learn things from looking at picture books) that you think they are.

    If they want to see an ultrasound, they can already request one. If they don’t want it, the last thing they need are laws that presume them incompetent to make that decision.

  • invalid-0

    Most people seem to be missing the point. They want to perform ultrasounds, not necessarily show them to the women. Ultrasounds are performed to determine such things as the age of the fetus for the doctors knowledge before the procedure is performed. I have known a few women who have had a pregnancy terminated and none of them were shown the ultrasound, they were not even asked if they wanted to see it. It was done with the screen turned away so they could not see it and they were not even given the choice to look. It was obviously done for the purpose of attaining information for the medical staff, that is all. It was not done to intimidate of guilt the women.