Analysis

Pro-life laws aren’t shaming women. They help to inform and keep them safe.

anencephaly

Many pro-life laws have come under fire from abortion advocates, who are pushing back by any means necessary. Unfortunately, this often comes hand-in-hand with heaps of denial: denial of science, denial of circumstance, and denial of proper health care. These laws aren’t in place just to hurt or shame women; they’re there to keep women safe, and are largely supported by Americans. Yet they continue to be attacked, such as in a recent article about “forced” ultrasounds.

In “The Cut,” Anna Silman published an article titled, “What It’s Like to Endure a Forced Ultrasound Before Your Abortion.” In it, Silman slammed what she referred to as forced-ultrasound laws, and interviewed a woman, Jen Ferris, who was “forced” to “endure” an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion. But in the process, Silman proceeded to play fast and loose with the truth on numerous levels.

Denying science

At the beginning of the article, Silman wrote:

In some states with particularly harsh mandates, the doctor must make a woman listen to the embryo’s cardiac activity — often incorrectly described as a heartbeat — and narrate a detailed description of the ultrasound, even if she objects.

On Monday, the Supreme Court allowed Kentucky’s forced-ultrasound law to stand, meaning it will join three other states (Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin) that require medical providers to display and describe an ultrasound before performing an abortion, a medically unnecessary procedure specifically intended to humanize the embryo and shame the woman seeking abortion care.

Polling actually shows that Americans support heartbeat bills, and for good reason: because what a preborn baby has is not “cardiac activity,” but a heartbeat that can be both seen and heard. Consider, for example, the Endowment for Human Development (EHD), a non-profit organization dedicated to health science and education, which takes a vow of neutrality on controversial bioethical issues. As the EHD points out, the heart begins beating just three weeks after fertilization. This video from EHD shows the heart beating at just over four weeks, physically pumping blood.

 

Far from what abortion advocates claim, this isn’t “cardiac activity” or “pulsing cells.” It’s an actual heartbeat — and even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines it as such. Pointing out scientific facts about fetal development does humanize the embryo (a term which is a description for a stage of human development, and has nothing to do with determining humanity). But that’s because preborn children are human beings, and this is a scientific fact.

Coercion? Who cares?

In her description of her abortion experience, Ferris complained about being separated from her boyfriend. But sometimes this must be done to ensure that a woman isn’t being forced into an abortion.

At the clinic, they immediately separated me from my boyfriend and made me watch a video by myself on what abortion was about. They gave me a couple of opportunities to say I didn’t want it; for example, they asked me if I was being coerced. I remember thinking, I really wish my boyfriend were here sitting with me. Then they had me change into a hospital gown and took me into this holding area for all the women having abortions that day. We were all sitting there on bench seats, wearing socks and hospital gowns. I just wanted to have my abortion. They left us in that room for four hours.

This is surprising, as many have testified that they were never asked about coercion at abortion facilities. The sad reality is, many women are coerced into abortions. They’re coerced by their abusers, or their rapists, who want to cover up the evidence of their crimes. Or they might be coerced by their family or their partners, who threaten them with homelessness or other financial intimidation if they don’t go through with the procedure. But Ferris acknowledges none of that; instead, she just handwaves the idea of coercion away as if it’s an inconvenience and an annoyance.

Coercion has also been known to happen at the hands of abortion facility staffers themselves. Abortion chains like Marie Stopes and Planned Parenthood have been accused of pressuring or forcing women into abortions, even if they changed their minds.

Unnecessary ultrasounds?

Finally, Ferris recounted her experience of the actual ultrasound, which she allegedly had to “endure.”

I had no idea why any of this was happening. I was trying not to look at the ultrasound, and the practitioner said to me, “Ma’am, you’re going to have to look at this and we’re going to have to turn the volume up on it.” I remember feeling so annoyed and dismayed.

… I remember the room was dark so you could see the screen, and there was this thud of the heartbeat going through the air, and two or three people in the room all kind of looking at me expectantly. I just wanted them to turn the volume down because it was so loud.

… I felt like, Wow, I am being outright shamed here.

… None of the things I had prepared myself for involved being in a room full of strangers, separated from my boyfriend, hearing this heartbeat and having three sets of eyes staring at me, waiting for my reaction to this news that there was a healthy, functioning pregnancy in me. Of course there was — that’s why I was there.

Honestly, this sort of experience with ultrasound at an abortion facility isn’t at all like other women have described.

Informed consent should be mandatory for all women, and it’s something that polling has found most Americans support. Ferris, once again, seemed unaware that not every woman is in her exact situation; while she may have been aware of her child’s development, many others are not. And part of the reason these laws are necessary is because the abortion industry has been known to women about fetal development. Ultimately, it all comes down to informed consent.

 

What abortion advocates also rarely acknowledge is that ultrasounds are a standard part of the abortion procedure process. In addition to being vital for informed consent, it’s also a medical necessity; without knowing how far along a woman is, the procedure being committed can be dangerous.

Yet again, to abortion advocates, it doesn’t seem to matter if it puts women’s lives at risk or if it ignores scientific reality. The only thing that seems important to them is that abortion is as widespread and common as possible.

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