The cardinal rule of a profitable abortion business is, “No babies!” Don’t let pregnant women bring babies into the waiting room (they remind the abortion-bound women of the alternative to aborting). Don’t refer to what the woman’s carrying as a baby (say instead “contents of the uterus,” “products of conception,” “clump of cells,” “just tissue,” etc.). And whatever else you do, don’t let her see the baby on the ultrasound! Because if she does, she may change her mind and walk out.
Unsurprisingly, then, abortion apologists have been up in arms over the recent spate of bills in various states that would require abortionists actually to show the pregnant woman just what is moving and growing inside her. The abortion reps act as if the survival of the abortion industry is at stake — and they may well be right.
The abortion lobby, however, faces a serious public-relations problem. If it says, “We want to keep the customer in ignorance because more information will damage sales,” even their legislative friends are likely to desert them. Likewise, the slogan “Doctor knows best” runs smack dab into the normal aversion of the left to paternalism. And opposing a consumer-protection disclosure law for women considering abortion but supporting one for, say, car purchases, looks impossibly unprincipled. Can you imagine the folks on The View agreeing that it insults the intelligence of car buyers to require that they be provided with odometer disclosures?
Ah, but the abortion promoters are savvy. They have found the recipe for actually provoking outrage against giving pregnant women potentially deal-breaking information. The mantra? Physical invasion! An ultrasound takes information from a woman’s own body (as if it were some kind of exotic strip search, and as if it were not the case that every physician takes information from the patient’s “own body”)! Worse still, some ultrasound methods — namely, transvaginal ultrasounds — actually require penetration of a woman’s private parts! This is tantamount to rape! Who could favor such extreme practices?
Well, abortionists, for one. It turns out that upwards of 80 percent of abortion providers (at least according to a study of abortion providers published in the journal Contraception in 2003, see Janie Benson et al., “Early abortion services in the United States: a provider survey,” 67 Contraception 287, 289, 291 (2003), available here) always do transvaginal ultrasounds, both for surgical and drug-induced early abortions. They presumably have medical reasons for doing this — to determine gestational age, make sure the baby is in the womb and not ectopic, confirm the number of babies and their size, etc. Are NARAL, NOW, and Planned Parenthood raging against this apparently very common practice?
Creating a fuss over this invasion makes great political sense for the abortion industry. But creating this fuss is also immensely hypocritical, as the message is, “It’s okay for abortionists to require their patients to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds as part of getting an abortion, but not for the state to require the same thing.” The invasion is the same. (In fact, if the abortionist goes on to do a surgical abortion, the ultimate physical intrusion is even greater.) The crucial difference, however, remains unspoken: “The abortionists will not let the woman see what he sees. The state, however, will require us to show her.” That, my friends, is what is really at stake. “No babies!”
— Walter M. Weber is Senior Litigation Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice.