In late February, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a controversial bill requiring women to have an ultrasound prior to an abortion. The bill, originally mandating a trans-vaginal ultrasound prior to an abortion was modified to an abdominal ultrasound after heated debate from pro-choice proponents across the country.
They stressed that trans-vaginal ultrasounds were invasive, using phrases like "rape by medical instrument" when describing the practice. Their rhetoric over a mandated ultrasound prior to an abortion was loud enough to drown out the true focus of the legislation: the requirement that abortion providers show patients the ultrasound while it is performed.
Regardless of the political spinning, semantics, and sleight-of-hand that surrounds the abortion issue, the fact is that ultrasounds are standard procedures in all abortions. If the pregnancy is less than nine weeks, a trans-vaginal ultrasound rather than an external ultrasound is performed.
What is at stake, however, is whether or not the patient is allowed to see the monitor while the ultrasound is performed. Shielding women from the ultrasound monitor ensures abortions go forth. With the cost of an abortion averaging $600, allowing a patient to reconsider an abortion is not a favorable business practice among abortion providers.
Sadly, a great deal of opposition to this legislation is more about good business practices and less about women's health care, regardless of what the pro-choice proponents in Virginia would like you to think.
The debate rages, however, because abortion proponents argue that any ultrasound is invasive, even though they are routinely performed in all abortions. The reason is simple: any threat to the abortion status quo is quelled by the pro abortion political machine, even at the expense of women.
In the twisted logic of the pro-choice position, ultrasounds are invasive yet abortions are not. Ultrasounds are psychologically damaging yet abortions are compassionate procedures to eliminate mistakes.
The truth is that mandating a patient-viewed ultrasound is the only way to fully inform a woman of exactly what is inside her own uterus. She deserves the right to know if it is a viable pregnancy —a baby with a beating heart — or a non-viable pregnancy that would end naturally in miscarriage, not requiring any medical interference.
She deserves the right to see if it's just a blob of tissue — which is what abortion providers still tell girls and women to this day— or a little tiny human with limbs and organs and beating heart.
This is not playing on her emotions. This is giving her all the information she needs to make an informed decision. It may be the most difficult decision of her life, but she is the one who has to live with it.
Furthermore, the insertion of a slim ultrasound probe and the tiny, gentle movements of that instrument are nothing compared to a regular abortion exam and certainly cannot compare to the violent movements of the abortion tools in the vagina and the uterus during an abortion. Women describe the abortion procedure as excruciating, so allowing them one last chance to avoid it through a mandated patient-viewed ultrasound might well be worth the trade.
Some statistics show 67 percent of women had abortions under pressure or coercion, that over 75 percent of post-abortive women say they would not have chosen abortion if the man involved had supported having the baby, that 70 percent of post-abortive women say they never felt like they knew their other options (besides abortion).
Over 60 percent of women regret their abortions and wish they would have had more information before they made that choice. Allowing a woman to make an informed decision, even if that decision is uncomfortable, should be seen as positive, progressive and respectful by all sides. Protecting her from the reality inside her womb is counter-intuitive to the entire women's movement.
Requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion, and allowing a woman to see it, is not a matter of patient privacy nor is it an over-reaching governmental intrusion.
Rather it is the hope of pro-life advocates everywhere that a mother-to-be will see the reality of her child on a computer screen and decide that saving a life is a much greater good than ending it.
It is a choice that makes all the difference in the world, at least until we overturn Roe v. Wade.