June 05, 2005

Ultrasound required before an abortion

A few years ago I was riding through Owosso, Michigan and some anti-abortion demonstrators were on a corner with their signs, including huge pictures of what looked like chopped up babies. I was just horrified. I believe I understand the commitment and passion of those who want to put an end to abortion, I just couldn't believe that they would use such poor judgment about what they are willing to inflict on random passersby.

This brings me to the lastest action of the Michigan legislature on the abortion front. They've passed a bill to require an ultrasound test for women seeking an abortion. Their hope is that when women see the pictures of their embryo they will abandon their intention to abort. Lawmakers hasten to add that the law doesn't require that women be forced to look at the pictures.

This is just wrong on so many levels. There is the issue of bypassing a doctor's judgment about what is medically necessary for his/her patient, the state requiring unnecessary medical testing and the expense to a patient who is not likely to be able to afford it. This law turns health care providers into state-appointed officials charged with tormenting women who are seeking medical care. This law effectively places those street corner demonstrators into a medical examining room.

Do anti-abortion activisits really think they can prevent women from exersizing their right to abortion this way? Hasn't it occurred to them that it might be a better idea to do the kind of work that would help women avoid being in a situation in which abortion remains the best of all options? We know that economic security reduces the number of abortions, so why aren't they on street corners with pictures of people suffering from poverty and lack of employment? I read recently that 1 in 4 children in this country go to bed hungry at night. Schools are setting up programs for kids who rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs at school that will provide them with food on weekends and school breaks. How about a law to require merchants to distribute pictures of families standing in soup kitchen lines to purchasers of luxury goods?


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