Pa. to consider mandating ultrasound prior to abortion

    Virginia’s Legislature is advancing a bill that would make ultrasounds mandatory for women seeking abortions.

    A similar measure is scheduled to be taken up by Pennsylvania’s State House next month.


    The national brouhaha over the Virginia proposal was focused on language requiring not the familiar abdominal ultrasound, with the clear jelly and the wand, but an internal probe.

    That language was stripped out with an amendment that came at the request of Virginia’s governor because he was concerned it would leave the state open to legal challenges.

    In Pennsylvania, the proposal offered by Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Forrest, does not require internal ultrasounds. But she said the whole argument about state-sanctioned invasion is a diversion.

    “Because, certainly, the abortion procedure is much more invasive than the trans-vaginal ultrasound,” Rapp said Tuesday.

    She said nothing about her bill takes away a woman’s right to choose.

    Opponents, including the National Women’s Law Center, say the compulsory ultrasound could put undue burden on that right.

    Although the Pennsylvania bill doesn’t require an ultrasound taken internally, or vaginally, that could be the effective requirement, said Gretchen Borshelt, an attorney with the law center.

    “From what we understand from providers who work with women who are pregnant, the trans-vaginal ultrasound is usually the primary means of detecting gestational age in the early stages of pregnancy, because the abdominal ultrasound doesn’t usually pick up those images,” Borshelt said.

    Seven states now require women to have ultrasounds before receiving abortions.

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