Mandating ultrasounds before abortions
According to our state law, I must show you the ultrasound and you must hear the fetal heartbeat, if there is one.
I can’t proceed with your visit until we have completed this part.” Amy concedes to the ultrasound. I’m really struggling to understand how forcing her to look at the ultrasound is acceptable.
At my medical school, we don’t have to force the patient to look at the ultrasound. It doesn’t usually seem to change their decision.” Heat floods Kathy’s cheeks. Why is the legislature allowed to dictate how we practice medicine?
None of these states expressly require the use of a transvaginal ultrasound.
However, many of these states require that the ultrasound image depict the dimensions of the fetus and the presence of the fetus’s external members and internal organs.
Ultrasounds are medical procedures generally performed for various reasons at the advice and discretion of a doctor and her patient.
Because legislation mandating such procedures circumvents professional medical guidance and discretion and the consent of the patient, we refer to these as “forced ultrasound” laws.The purported purpose of these forced ultrasound laws, which are based on a model bill authored by Americans United for Life, is to ensure that women make an informed choice about whether or not to get an abortion, to promote the woman’s physical and psychological health, and to protect a state’s interest in protecting life.In reality, however, these laws compel doctors to perform medically unnecessary procedures, raising the costs of abortion care, and imposing additional burdens on the free exercise of women’s rights.What role should legislation play in physician decision making?Kathy struggles with a question that has become more frequent in the past decade, as those who oppose abortion advocate limitations on abortion care.Casey, which prohibits regulations that pose an “undue burden” on a woman’s constitutional right under Roe v. Forced ultrasound bills raise additional constitutional concerns.