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A Comprehensive Overview of Abortion Ultrasound Laws in the US

abortion ultrasound laws, transvaginal ultrasound, ultrasound required before abortion, reproductive rights, states with ultrasound laws

Which states have ultrasound laws?

In doing some research about The Snatchel Project earlier today, I wanted to figure out which states have approved, proposed and/or shot down legislation requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before being able to have an abortion, and I had trouble finding that located conveniently in one place. So I’ve created a primer, below, that covers all the news on which states have done what in terms of these rapidly replicating ultrasound laws.

There’s a great piece on CNN about the movement of women using Facebook and the good old fashioned US Mail to spam “gyno-governors” with vaginas and questions about the female reproductive system. The gyno-governors that have been targeted include Mississippi’s Phil Bryant, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Bob McDonnell of Virginia. Here’s why:

  • Other states that now require women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion are Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Virginia, and Texas. You likely remember that Texas was the first state to enact a law requiring women to both obtain and view an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion procedure. It remains the only state with that requirement.
  • You also remember that Virginia’s requirement that women undergo transvaginal ultrasound was removed from the bill that eventually passed, requiring a regular abdominal ultrasound before an abortion can take place.

Also, from Politifact:

  • Five states require that ultrasounds are offered to the woman by the provider: Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.
  • Nine states require that if an ultrasound is conducted to prepare for the abortion, the provider must offer to show the woman the image: Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

In all, there are now 8 states that require a woman to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. The Guttmacher Institute (which does have a handy chart you might want to look at) notes that since “routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements appear to be a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion. Moreover, an ultrasound can add significantly to the cost of the procedure.”

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