4/01/2009
ultrasound nonsense
The Texas Legislature is considering a bill that would give a woman the right to see an ultrasound of her baby before an abortion is performed on her.

The bill would mandate that abortionists make the ultrasound available for viewing, describe the medical condition of the fetus, the presence of internal and external organs, and the option to hear the heartbeat. There are no penalties for the abortionist or the woman if she refuses to hear or see any of this. The law would simply require that the abortionist make it available to her. If she turns away, then so be it.

Normally, one would think that those who are in favor of expansion of women's rights and the availability of the most accurate and up to date information would be in favor of this bill. After all, most abortionists already use ultrasound (they have to in order to know how far along the baby is) so there is not an additional burden placed on them, it would simply require them to turn the screen.

Abortion supporters though, don't think of it that way. I found 4 articles written by various supporters of abortion that talk about the ultrasound bill and in their own way, try to put fourth arguments as to why it is wrong.

The first one is a US News & World Report blog posting by Bonnie Erbe from March, 23rd of this year. The very title of her posting reveals problem # 1 with the reporting surrounding this bill: "Antiabortion Fanatics' New Invasive Attack: the Forced Ultrasound"

Really, a forced ultrasound? Actually, the text of the bill is clear that there is no force or compulsion used at all.

Let's see what the text of the bill actually says:

Sec. 171.0121. VIEWING PRINTED MATERIALS AND ULTRASOUND IMAGE. a) A pregnant woman may choose not to view the printed materials provided under Section 171.012(a)(3) after she has been provided the materials. (b) A pregnant woman may avert her eyes from the ultrasound images required to be provided to and reviewed with the pregnant woman under Section 171.012(a)(4). (c) The physician and the pregnant woman are not subject to a penalty under this chapter solely because the pregnant woman chooses not to view the printed materials or the ultrasound images as described by this section.

There is no place in the bill that talks about a woman being forced to view an ultrasound, hear a description of the baby's development or listen to the heartbeat. The bill says the exact opposite.

The rest of her blog post is spent attacking pro-lifers, calling us "fanatics," and the "├╝berright" and she makes no attempt at justifying her position that viewing an ultrasound is the "most invasive type of moralistic lecture imaginable."

Another written piece is from the distinguished editorial board of the Austin-American Statesmen, a local newspaper in Austin. The editorial from March 2nd, 2009 is entitled "Ultrasound bill is an outrageous intrusion by the Texas Legislature: Sen. Patrick's bill to shame women seeking abortions is wrongheaded."

Here's the catch line in the first paragraph: "Now comes an intrusive bill mandating that pregnant women seeking an abortion be force-fed information designed to humiliate them."

Force-fed? Wow! Can someone show me where that is in the bill? I can't find it.

The third article comes from a local high school student, Erin Goldman a senior at Greenhill School in Dallas. Embarrassingly, Erins article presents the most logical arguments against the ultrasound bill than the other articles mentioned above, but even hers manages to get the facts wrong.

Here is an example of what I mean. Erin writes: "Abortion is an unbelievably difficult choice for any woman to make, and her decision should remain between her and her doctor. In Texas, it is legal to have an abortion before the third trimester; it is a woman's right to choose. Where's the choice in mandating that women view an ultrasound as a prerequisite to abortion? "

Erin, the choice is written in the text of the bill itself, which you would know if you had taken the time to read it! But it is clear you did not.

My advice for all three of these writers: Before you write a column blasting proposed legislation, make sure you actually read the legislation first. And, if the thinking above and the writing of the articles is the sum of the opposition, then I am more convinced than ever of the need to pass this bill.

And finally, for amusement reading only, take a peek at the testimony of a former NARAL Texas staffer about the ultrasound bill. I could find no coherent argument in her writing, she seemed to be writing only to insult as many people as possible. More amusing and incoherent writing about the Kansas ultrasound bill (just passed last week) can be found here.

Let's cut through the rhetoric and the propaganda and get to the heart of the matter. That's what ultrasounds do, so should we.

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