Alabama Bill Could Require Women To Undergo Invasive Ultrasound To Convince Them ‘To Keep The Child’

A depiction of the procedure

When a woman in Alabama seeks an abortion procedure, she already has to sign that her doctor has performed an ultrasound and that she either viewed the ultrasound image or rejected seeing it. But state Sen. Clay Scofield (R) is pushing SB 12, a bill in the Alabama legislature that would mandate the physician “to perform an ultrasound, provide verbal explanation of the ultrasound, and display the images to the pregnant woman before performing an abortion.” The physician could also require the woman to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound — “in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced” — if she or he determines it necessary.

A Senate committee voted 4-1 on Friday to approve the measure, and the state Senate is expected to vote on it early this week. Even though studies have proven that viewing an ultrasound does not lead women to not have abortions, the bill’s sponsor says he hopes it will:

Scofield said he hopes that, if signed into law, his bill will stop some abortions. Though the bill states a woman can look away from the ultrasound image, Scofield wants her to see it.

“So she sees that this is not just a clump of cells as she is told,” he said. “She will see the shape of the infant. And hopefully, she will choose to keep the child.”

The bill wouldn’t require an ultrasound if an abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life, but it does not allow the victims of sexual assault to opt out of viewing the ultrasound.

Last week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell backed away from supporting the same measure after almost 1,000 women protested the measure and national media mocked the extreme bill. He explained that he backtracked after the state’s attorney general told him that “these kinds of mandatory invasive requirements might run afoul of Fourth Amendment law.” The Virginia House and a Senate committee have passed the ultrasound bill with substitute language from the governor that would not require women to receive a transvaginal ultrasound.


State Sen. Linda Coleman (D), the sole vote against the bill in committee, told RH Reality Check that it is “a state-sanctioned rape bill.” “You can’t tell me forcing a probe into a woman’s vagina against her consent is anything but rape,” Coleman said.

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