News Abortion

Michigan Legislators Reintroduce Forced Ultrasound Bill

Angi Becker Stevens

HB 4187 is about more than just the physical violation of a woman’s body with a transvaginal ultrasound wand. It is also about the mental and emotional violation of forcing women to view the most visually-detailed ultrasound images possible, in what is clearly an attempt to cause guilt and shame.

Tuesday, anti-choice Michigan legislators re-introduced a piece of legislation I wrote about last session, that will force all women seeking safe abortion care to undergo an ultrasound with the most technologically-advanced imaging equipment available, a minimum of two hours prior to obtaining an abortion.

At Talking Points Memo, Sahil Kapur referred to the bill as one that would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds, similar to bills that were defeated in Virginia and Alabama last year. But Michigan’s HB 4187 goes beyond mandating transvaginal ultrasound. It’s true that the bill would mandate transvaginal ultrasound in a de-facto sense in very early pregnancy, when the vast majority of abortions are performed, as transvaginal ultrasound would be the most visually-accurate technology available at that point. But at later stages in pregnancy, it’s likely that the advanced “3D’ ultrasound equipment would be required, assuming that a clinic had such equipment on-site. Additionally, while the bill claims to be giving women the “option” of viewing the ultrasound images, it also mandates that the monitors be turned in the woman’s direction, so that the only way she can exercise her choice to not view the images is by closing her eyes.

As I said of this legislation last year, this is about more than just the physical violation of a woman’s body with a transvaginal ultrasound wand. It is also about the mental and emotional violation of forcing women to view the most visually-detailed ultrasound images possible, in what is clearly an attempt to cause guilt and shame.

Forced ultrasounds are especially excessive considering that Michigan’s “informed consent” law already mandates that women receive information detailing their current stage of embryonic/fetal development 24-hours in advance of receiving an abortion.

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HB 4187 is now awaiting a recommendation from the House Committee on Health Policy, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 11 to 6.

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