Texas is considering a bill that will require women to have a sonogram before having an abortion. One of the bill’s promoters, state senator Dan Patrick says he’s been misunderstood.
It seems that requiring a sonogram before an abortion isn’t really an invasion of women’s rights and a violation of the private relationship between a doctor and her patient.
Women won’t have to watch the sonograms, under a provision introduced by Patrick. They just have to have them. The goal is for the doctor to see what’s going on in there.
If a sonogram were a medically necessary part of a safe, healthy abortion procedure, then having one would already be part of the standard of care. In fact, Planned Parenthood says a sonogram is often part of standard care, and a woman can choose to have one or not, and to view it or not as she wishes.
The new law would require a sonogram every time an abortion is performed, even if the woman has had one previously. In the first version of the law, women would have been required to watch the ultrasound and doctors to describe what was happening throughout the abortion procedure. Patrick has tweaked it so that women would be allowed to refuse to see or hear the sonogram, but must have it.
This is a flimsy maneuver by anti-abortion politicians to make abortion access harder and more painful for women. It’s like moving the protesters that hound patients out of the parking lot and directly into the doctor’s office.
Patrick isn’t shy about his aims. In the Texas Tribune, he says:
“My belief is that some women, when they see that sonogram and see that baby and hear that heartbeat, if they choose to do so, may change their minds and say You know what? That’s my baby,'” he said Tuesday.
That might totally happen. But a doctor’s office is the wrong place to try for that conversion moment. Women have abortions for all kinds of reasons. Does Patrick really want to force a woman undergoing an abortion to safely remove a dead fetus from her body to undergo yet another sonogram of her dead baby? Does he want a rape victim forced to watch the fetus conceived during her assault?
Yes I’m picking the dramatic examples. Let’s go for a less dramatic one: does Patrick really want a woman choosing to end an unwanted pregnancy because she doesn’t want a child to be forced to watch a sonogram of that fetus? The goal of this law is to cause women emotional pain. If he does want that, he’s a sadist.
If you want to help women not have abortions, Senator Patrick, your best bet is to focus on what happens before women get pregnant. Improving sex ed programs and helping women get better access to birth control will go a long way towards cutting down the number of patients at your state’s abortion clinics. Leave the patients who have already walked through those doors alone.