Alabama Lawmaker Backs Down, Changes Invasive Ultrasound Bill

Alabama State Sen. Clay Scofield

In a Virginia-like turn around, the sponsor of a bill in the Alabama legislature mandating a physician “to perform an ultrasound, provide verbal explanation of the ultrasound, and display the images to the pregnant woman before performing an abortion” says he will water down his measure to give women more say over the procedure. SB12 will no longer require “a woman seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound in which a doctor or technician inserted an ultrasound transducer, or wand, inside her,” State Sen. Clay Scofield (R) explained in a statement Monday, allowing the woman to determine which “method of ultrasound that she would be more comfortable with.”

Under the measure, physicians and technicians who failed to administer the ultrasound prior to an abortion could still face up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The bill does not provide exceptions for rape an incest and would allow “the woman, the father of the fetus or the grandparents to sue the physician for “actual and punitive damages.” Critics also charge that the provision would permit “a rapist to sue a doctor who aborted his victim’s baby.”

Last week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) 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.”