An Ultrasound Image is Worth a Lifetime of Words

Women considering abortion in South Carolina may soon have one critical hour more than others to deliberate their final decisions. In an effort to thwart expectant women at the last moment from terminating their pregnancies, the S.C. Ultrasound bill (H. 3355) requires them to view an ultrasound image of their fetus before undergoing an abortion. The bill was advanced last Wednesday in the South Carolina legislature and supporters hope it will facilitate a personal connection between mother and child by providing women with the most substantial means of information.

Republican Gov. Mark Sanford backs the bill, which passed 91-23. Its principal sponsor is Rep. Greg Dellaney. The House must approve the bill again in a routine vote before it goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass with no trouble.

The attempt to incrementally regulate the abortion decision-making process would provide a sobering, one-hour time period during which a woman can gain deeper perspective on the consequences of such actions. Supporters believe this measure offers a vital backdrop for significantly decreasing abortions and gaining momentum towards winning the 32-year battle to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Critics and opponents of the bill know this and have labeled the screening prerequisite “emotional blackmail,” among other negative characterizations.

“Those kinds of objections are coming from the same group of people who routinely scold pro-lifers for not giving women enough credit to make free, autonomous decisions,” Dorothy Yeung, legislative council at the National Right-to-Life committee for the Department of State Legislation said in a phone interview. “For all of their talk about letting women make informed, intelligent decisions, these same people are terrified at the prospect of requiring an abortionist to provide an ultrasound.”

Yet, the pro-choice movement constantly emphasizes their support of whichever choice a woman makes: abortion, adoption, or parenthood. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) web site declares: “We want you to be able to make an informed decision, no matter what option you may choose…”

In the name of informed personal choice, NAF and other pro-choice organizations should recognize that the optimal circumstance abounds when a woman receives the most relevant material available. An ultrasound is certainly an applicable piece of information.

Some conservatives may be wary about supporting the bill because — in one way — it can be thought of as an infringement on personal liberty. However, conservatives should support it because, if abortion is murder, the issue is no longer the liberty of the mother — but a measure of government protection for innocent human life.

Syndicated columnist Star Parker wrote on March 26 that, “[Crisis Pregnancy] Centers report that anywhere from 62% up to 95% of women who had intended to abort changed their minds after seeing the images.”

Numbers like that invoke the fear in pro-choicers, so they downplay the relevance of the ultrasound.

A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman told the Associated Press that, "Women are intelligent and thoughtful human beings who would not go forward if they did not think this was in their best interest.” By generalizing an entire population of woman, they discredit the individuality of a woman’s reaction to the personally emotional nature of this circumstance.

Irrefutable exposure to a child they may destroy will resolve any disillusion a woman holds about the personhood of this "fetus." Toes and fingers, eyes and lips, and — most notably — beating hearts, are difficult to ignore. These simple trademarks of the human body can jolt the acceptance of a decision truly made at conception.

“The abortion lobby knows that when women get accurate information, and get to see the truth about their unborn child, they usually do choose life,” said Yeung.

Yeung maintained that is not a choice that helps the pro-abortion movement stay strong. If abortion were simply eliminating of a burdening bundle of tissue, no controversy would exist — just as no debate ensues about tumor removal. The physical awareness supplies more information that any pamphlet or counselor could ever muster.

In a March 22 Baptist press article, Executive Director of Palmetto Family Council Oran Smith said, “We have been getting calls from women who say they went to abortion clinics and it was an unnecessarily rushed procedure…When they went in, they were still undecided and they were very emotional…”

Women do decide on abortion in deeply emotional states, their stress often magnified by the brief time period in which they must choose. An ultrasound will increase those feeling no doubt. But if someone should err on the side of emotion, life is clearly the better “mistake.”

"From the calls I’ve gotten, I think some people wished there was an ultrasound requirement at the time they underwent the abortion procedure," said Gov. Dellaney in an Associated Press article.

The S.C. Ultrasound bill will ensure that less “mistakes” are made because women will truly be informed.