Whose interests are served by requiring ultrasounds?

    The Women’s Right to Know Act, a piece of legislation that would require a woman to get an ultrasound 24 hours before proceeding with an abortion, will be debated this year in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. What do you think of this bill?

    The Women’s Right to Know Act, a piece of legislation that would require a woman to get an ultrasound 24 hours before proceeding with an abortion, will be debated this year in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 

    What do you think of this bill?Tell us in the comments below.

    John Micek, the Allentown Morning Call statehouse reporter, has been following the bill and spoke to Dave Heller last week about it. He said the “right” implicit in the bill’s name that it’s meant to protect is the right for the patient to view an ultrasound image and to hear a fetal heartbeat before terminating a pregnancy. Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Kathy Rapp, who introduced the bill, has said that this would provide patients with more information so they can make a better-informed decision.

    Critics, including Planned Parenthood, say this is unduly coercive and designed to force a woman to change her mind.

    Micek said another major criticisms is that the procedure is medically unnecessary, because most women already have an ultrasound when they seek counseling prior to an abortion. Also, he noted, some say the method of the ultrasound is overly invasive.

    The language of the bill also states that the patient seeking an abortion must be shown an image from the ultrasound, and the doctor must verify in writing whether she accepted or refused a chance to view it. Micek said the Pennsylvania Medical Society has come out against this in particular because it puts a strain on the doctor-patient relationship.

    He cited public outcry in some states where similar legislation has been proposed, which has forced some lawmakers to consider “watering down” the wording.

    What do you think? Is this bill too restrictive, or, as its name suggests, does it merely protect a woman’s right to know? Do you agree that it is meant to be coercive? If so, is that a bad thing?

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.