A rash of mandatory ultrasound laws across the country have had abortion advocates outraged. To them, it’s unnecessary and akin to rape, and it pressures and guilts the poor, poor women who just want to kill their unborn children and get on with their lives. Far from ultrasounds being medically necessary, they argue, it’s all just a ruse by us evil pro-lifers to guilt women into not going through with the abortion. And now, Katy Waldman at Slate is arguing that they really don’t make a difference anyway:
This latest study is much larger. Researchers analyzed 15,575 medical records from an urban abortion care provider in Los Angeles. Each patient seeking an abortion was asked how she felt about her choice: Those who made “clear and confident” replies were rated as having “high decision certainty,” while those who seemed sad, angry, or ambivalent were said to show “medium” or “low” decision certainty. (Only 7.4 percent of the women fell into the latter categories.) Patients underwent ultrasounds as part of the standard procedure, and 42.5 percent of them opted to see the images. Of those, 98.4 percent terminated their pregnancies; 99 percent of the women who did not look at the photographs ended their pregnancies. But here’s the thing: The women who viewed the sonograms and then backed out were all part of that 7.4 percent of women with low or medium decision certainty. Women who knew abortion was the right decision for them continued with the procedure whether they were shown the images or not.
… Yet viewing the ultrasound images did influence some of the wavering women to stick with their pregnancies. Even though the number is very small, this is important to acknowledge. It means not only that forcing or pressuring women to look at their fetus will probably prevent a sliver of abortions—which is relevant for those who oppose and want to reduce abortions—but also that some women do respond to these pictures.
So here’s the million-dollar question: if the ultrasounds ultimately don’t matter at all, then why do abortion advocates care? For something so insignificant, they sure do fight hard. The president of NOW, Terry O’Neill, compared them to rape. Amanda Marcotte, also at Slate, called it ritualized humiliation. Of course, in reality, ultrasounds are very much medically necessary – not just before an abortion, but after as well.
Beforehand, the doctor needs to know the woman’s gestational age, in order to figure out the appropriate method of abortion, as well as to ensure that it isn’t an ectopic pregnancy. Afterwards, the abortionist needs to make sure that he got everything, because if any part of the baby remains, it can be deadly to the woman. So it isn’t that pro-aborts are truly concerned with the health of the woman in the ultrasound debate here. And Live Action has shown that abortion clinics can’t be trusted to give out medically accurate information, either.
Abortionists and clinic staffers alike testify that ultrasounds do change women’s minds. Ultrasound images are powerful enough to have made the founder of NARAL, Bernard Nathanson, renounce the pro-abortion movement and spend the rest of his life fighting to defend life. Pre-abortion ultrasounds have been described as emotional torture. Maybe most women who get an abortion aren’t swayed by seeing an ultrasound, although it’s important to keep in mind that this study was based on the records of one abortion clinic in Los Angeles. But the key in what infuriates abortion advocates so much probably lies in the women who are unsure, the ones who are likely to change their minds after seeing their unborn babies.
For all the lip service paid to the idea that pro-aborts don’t care if women choose to have the abortion or not, if that were really true, then what would it matter if women saw the ultrasound first? It’s already going to be done. It ensures that she’s getting accurate medical information prior to undergoing the procedure. And according to the study being cited, if she’s already made up her mind, then seeing the image won’t sway her, anyway.
So the question is, if the ultrasound doesn’t ultimately matter, then why do abortion advocates protest them so fiercely? What are they trying to hide?