NRL News
Page 1
February 2009
Volume 36
Issue 2

Legislation Requiring Ultrasounds Major Pro-Life Priority
By Dave Andrusko

Sometimes it takes a while before the full import of a Supreme Court decision is fully understood. Take Roe v. Wade ... please. It was not for a number of years after the 1973 decision that it became crystal clear the Court said what it meant, and meant what it said: essentially abortion on demand, for any reason, or no reason, throughout all 50 states.

In its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, at the same time it reaffirmed the “core” holdings of Roe, the justices opened the door a crack to commonsense legislation. In the 16 years since, states have passed a variety of informed consent/Woman’s Right to Know laws intended to ensure that a woman’s decision whether to abort is a measured, not emotional, one.

The results when women are told the truth about their unborn child, about alternatives, and about the anguish they may experience in the aftermath of a decision taken for death is that they often choose life. Not surprisingly, pro-abortionists fight such laws with a fiery passion, as hot as it is illogical. Aren’t they for “choice”?

The latest front in the ongoing struggle to give women a real “choice” is the use of ultrasound. “Sixteen states have laws requiring an abortion provider to give a mother an opportunity to view an ultrasound prior to undergoing an abortion,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, who directs NRLC’s State Legislation Department. “Proving a ‘window on the womb,’ this type of legislation is instrumental in ensuring that mothers in crisis pregnancies make truly informed decisions.”

Ultrasound legislation is a high priority for NRL’s state affiliates, Balch says. And as NRL News goes to press, there is a tremendous battle going on in Nebraska over just such a proposal.

If passed, Legislative Bill 675 “will be one of the strongest ultrasound laws in the country,” said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life. “LB 675 provides that an abortionist doing an ultrasound an hour prior to an abortion must display the ultrasound screen to the mother, so that she is fully informed.”

Key to LB 675, according to Schmit-Albin, is that it shifts the burden. No longer would the mother in crisis need to ask to see the ultrasound. The abortionist would be required to display the ultrasound screen to her. “However, nothing would prevent the mother from averting her eyes from the screen if she decides not to view it,” Schmit-Albin explained.

The benchmark ultrasound law after which the Nebraska law is modeled was passed last year in Oklahoma. It required that at least one hour prior to an abortion, an abortionist perform an ultrasound and display the image of the unborn child so that the mother can view it, if she chooses.

Last fall a prominent pro-abortion legal advocacy group, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma law. Noteworthy is that the CRR acknowledged in its October 10, 2008, press release that “Nationally, this case has implications because the law at issue is among the first signs that ... legislatures are beginning to take cues from [the 2007] U.S. Supreme Court ruling [Gonzales v. Carhart] upholding the ‘Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.’ Should this law be upheld, it could encourage copycat legislation around the country.”

Balch pointed out the irony that so many pro-abortionists are up in arms about the requirement that an ultrasound be used. “Almost all abortion clinics already use ultrasounds in almost all cases,” she noted.

In very early abortions, an ultrasound accurately dates the pregnancy since it depicts a clearer image of the baby. When the baby is older and more developed, ultrasounds are used to “guide the tools” and be sure that all the body parts are removed. In either case, abortion clinics already use ultrasounds, so it is no burden to display them in order that women can see the child in their womb before undergoing an abortion.