In the latest entry of legislation designed to make us want to vomit comes this beauty from Sen. Jim Tracy, SB 632, which would require any woman seeking an abortion in the state of Tennessee to be required to have an ultrasound between 72 to 24 hours before having an abortion, in effect instituting not just a waiting period before an abortion but also making abortion more expensive -- and thus all around less accessible, which is, of course, the entire point.
Here's the meat of the bill:
(b) Not more than seventy-two (72) hours and not less than twenty-four (24) hours before the performance of an abortion, and before any sedative or anesthetic is administered to the pregnant woman, a qualified medical professional trained in sonography and working under the supervision of a physician licensed in this state shall:
(1) Perform a live, real-time fetal transabdominal ultrasound imaging on the pregnant woman on whom the abortion is to be performed for the purpose of determining gestational age;(2) Display the live, real-time fetal transabdominal ultrasound images in a quality consistent with current medical practice in a manner that the pregnant woman may view them;
(3) (A) Verbally offer the woman undergoing the fetal
transabdominal ultrasound an opportunity to view the ultrasound image and receive a printed copy of the ultrasound image; or
(4) Make audible the live, real-time heart auscultation, when present, for the pregnant woman to hear, in a quality consistent with current medical practice, and provide, in a manner understandable to a layperson, a simultaneous verbal explanation of the live, real-time heart auscultation.(B) In cases where the woman declines the offer to view the ultrasound image pursuant to subdivision (b)(3)(A), provide, in a manner understandable to a layperson, a simultaneous verbal explanation of the results of the live, real-time ultrasound images, including a medical description of the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs, external members and internal organs, and provide a copy of the ultrasound image to the woman; and
There are a whole host of reasons why bills like this are wrong and offensive and should piss you off. You could do worse than listening to this episode of Fresh Air from a few weeks back, in which one Texas mother describes her harrowing ordeal after she learned her baby would not be born healthy and made the decision to terminate her pregnancy, only to have to endure another sonogram -- she had already had two -- before being allowed to proceed with the abortion. She asks: "What good is a law that adds only pain and difficulty to perhaps the most painful and difficult decision a woman can make?"
While Tracy's bill does provide an exception for women facing medical emergencies, the obvious intent of the law is impede a woman's right to control her own body. Even more problematically, the bill would require doctors to keep the ultrasound pictures in the woman's medical file for seven years.
(e) During a visit made to an abortion provider to fulfill the requirements of subsection (b), the abortion provider shall obtain from the pregnant woman on whom the ultrasound was performed, a written statement with her signature, and the signature of the qualified medical professional who performed the ultrasound, certifying that the woman received:
(1) A live, real-time fetal transabdominal ultrasound imaging for the purpose of determining gestational age;(2) A verbal offer to view the ultrasound image;(3) A printed copy of the ultrasound image;(4) In a manner understandable to a layperson, a simultaneous verbalexplanation of the results of the live, real-time ultrasound image, including a medical description of the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs external members and internal organs, if applicable pursuant to subdivision (b)(3)(B); and(f) A printed copy of the ultrasound image and a copy of the signed written statement required by subsection (e) shall be maintained in the woman's medical record at the facility where the abortion is to be performed for seven (7) years.(5) An audible, live, real-time heart auscultation, if present, of the fetus in which the ultrasound was performed.
This should outrage you. There is absolutely no reason for this requirement, other than to punish women who choose to have an abortion and the doctors that provide the procedure.
The only good news is that the legislation as yet doesn't have a sponsor in the House, but unlike some of the other absurd legislation in the Senate (cough, Campfield, cough), we imagine it won't be hard for a number of House Republicans to get behind this, given the restrictions on abortion clinics already enacted last year.