Michigan is looking to be the latest in a litany of states who believe that forcing women into mandatory ultrasound’s prior to the termination of a pregnancy will somehow reduce the number of abortions in their state. Michigan already has an ultrasound law in place, but lawmakers contend that doctors are getting around the “intent” of the measure by not always using the highest possible imaging resolution when conducting those ultrasounds.
Since enactment of the Ultrasound Viewing Option law in 2006 medical clinics that provide abortion services must give the woman in need of the service the opportunity to view the ultrasound screen and offer her a printout of the ultrasound image. But according to Michigan state senator Wayne Kuipers (R) the sponsor of this new measure, that just isn’t enough.
The problem (well one of many) with a bill like this, as noted by Robin Marty, is that it’s long on morality and short on substance. Just how will the restriction be enforced? Who will monitor if providers are using the “most advanced ultrasound equipment available at their office?” If passed, would this create a legal obligation by providers to consistently upgrade ultrasound technologies, irrespective of cost or need? Most importantly, who is going to pay for this?
And what of those women who don’t intend to terminate their pregnancies? Most insurance plans will not cover advanced ultrasound imaging and some plans refuse to cover more than one ultrasound unless the mother and fetus are considered “high risk.”
What these questions illustrate is the dubious nature of using these kinds of pressure tactics to try and reduce abortions. Instead of addressing the reasons why a woman might need to terminate a pregnancy they presume that doctors and their patients can simply be manipulated into making a different decision and treats every decision to terminate a pregnancy the same.
The bill next goes to the Michigan House for a vote.
photo courtesy of abby batcheldor via Flickr