Mandating ultrasounds before abortions

Texas is one of seven states — along with Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi — that requires ultrasound prior to abortion. Much has been written about the increasingly draconian hoops through which women seeking abortions must jump.But it is doubtful that the legislators debating vaginal probes or abdominal wands considered the effect it would have on a woman who really, really wanted to be a mom, but chose otherwise out of love, to require her to submit to an ultrasound before being allowed to end her pregnancy.Stunned, Jones had a horrible decision to make: welcome a child into this world to face a lifetime of suffering or abort him.Choosing to continue the pregnancy, says Jones, a freelance writer in Austin, Texas, “sounded like physical cruelty.” She made her choice.Elizabeth Nash, who tracks states’ reproductive health policies for the Guttmacher Institute, believes the laws are in place not to provide women with more information but to steer them away from abortion.In the late 1990s, when the trend toward making it tougher to get an abortion picked up speed, women were simply required to be made aware of the availability of ultrasounds as part of their pre-abortion counseling.The next wave saw providers being mandated to offer ultrasounds, which led next to their requirement.Most recently, states have debated and legislated the fetal descriptions that Jones endured. Says Jones: “People feel passionately about women’s rights.” MORE: Should Homeschoolers Play Public-School Sports?

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It’s a hodgepodge of medical interventions being legislated by (mostly) male politicians.

He also had to describe in detail her baby’s anatomy.

“It felt barbaric to have to listen to a description of a baby I had so badly wanted,” says Jones, who is 35.

But the exemptions highlight the arbitrary ways in which various states are implementing their laws. ) Texas has the most restrictive law, requiring women to listen to the gallop of their baby’s heartbeat, before aborting it.

Alabama — which simply offers the woman the option of viewing the ultrasound image — has the least.

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