There is a breathtaking display of unvarnished bias as abortion advocates and their allies in the national press try to kill legislation in Virginia requiring that an ultrasound be performed prior to a surgical or chemical abortion. Ultrasound laws are currently in effect in 22 states, with five of those states requiring exactly what Virginia is considering. Why? Because, simply put, ultrasound laws save lives.
Performing an ultrasound before an abortion should be a commonsense standard of care for abortion providers. Ultrasound assists an abortion provider in determining gestational age. The farther along in pregnancy that a woman is, the greater the risk that abortion poses. Ultrasound also serves an essential medical purpose by diagnosing ectopic pregnancies which, if left undiagnosed, can result in fallopian rupture and life-threatening bleeding. For example, the FDA has reported that at least two women have died from ruptured ectopic pregnancies following use of the abortion drug RU-486.
However, the abortion lobby doesn’t want women to receive these life-saving exams if the images produced by the ultrasound could sway women away from abortion. And the media seems to be assisting in the misinformation campaign by repeating the distortion by abortion advocates that this bill requires an “invasive ultrasound.”
For example, ABC News reporter Serena Marshall wrote in her story, “Many women receive abortion very early in their pregnancies, which would mean that, in some cases, a trans-vaginal ultrasound would be required.” Ed Schultz on MSNBC stated that the bill “would require women seeking abortions would require a highly invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound first.” The issue has also come up on Rachel Maddow, The Daily Show, and even Saturday Night Live.
This is the propagation of a malicious misinformation campaign, plain and simple. The truth is that the original bill requires that the ultrasound “shall be made pursuant to standard medical practice in the community.” In other words, abortion providers must follow a basic standard of care. They shouldn’t conduct the ultrasound haphazardly. They shouldn’t fling the abdominal inducer over the woman’s stomach and claim to have “performed” an ultrasound. They simply must conduct the ultrasound in good faith, with professionalism and in a manner that will ensure the woman’s welfare should she choose abortion.
In the meantime, Governor McDonnell has voiced his support of ultrasound legislation, while saying that he would ask state legislators to “clarify” the bill so that abdominal ultrasounds would be the focus of the pending law. On Wednesday, the House passed an amended version that attempts to shut down the unfounded attacks of pro-abortion forces maliciously seeking to destroy the bill which provides life-saving tests for women facing abortion.
Ultrasound is standard medical care. Even Planned Parenthood clinics in Virginia state on their voice message that they perform an ultrasound before an abortion. If women going into Planned Parenthood deserve this level of care, don’t all women who enter any abortion clinic in the state?
The use of false information in the pro-abortion attacks against the legislature and the pro-life governor is unprecedented and seem politically timed. It is one thing to oppose legislation on the merits. But to employ such scare tactics about the impact of life-saving medical exams goes well beyond simple policy disagreement. It is unforgivable.
— Daniel McConchie is Vice President of Government Affairs of Americans United for Life. Mailee R. Smith is a staff attorney for AUL