Michigan GOP Would Force Women To Undergo Invasive Ultrasounds Before Getting An Abortion

Example of a transvaginal probe

Michigan Republicans introduced a mandatory ultrasound bill this week with a carefully-worded clause that threatens to stir up controversy that first erupted during the height of last year’s “War on Women.” By stipulating that the ultrasounds must use the “most technologically advanced equipment on site,” Michigan lawmakers would require women seeking abortions to undergo an invasive transvaginal probe.

Transvaginal ultrasound bills, which require doctors to insert a wand into a woman’s vagina before proceeding with an abortion procedure, were introduced last year in Virginia and Alabama. Widespread public outcry — including considerable derision from the national media — forced GOP lawmakers to back away from the extreme legislation, but Talking Points Memo reports that Michigan lawmakers are now ready to revive the fight:

The bill requires the use of ultrasound equipment “providing the most visibly clear image of the gross anatomical development of the fetus and the most audible fetal heartbeat.” As a practical matter, that requires transvaginal ultrasounds, said Donna Crane, the policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“It does lay bare that the real motive is to make abortion providers continue to acquire more and more and more equipment before they’re even eligible to perform an abortion,” Crane told TPM. “They’re trying to make it harder for doctors to do their jobs.” […]

Crane said NARAL and its allies are prepared to fight to sink the legislation.

“Women should be up in arms over these types of laws,” she said. “Unfortunately they’re not new. But the fact that politicians just went through an election cycle and got spanked over how they treat women and reproductive freedoms and still introduce bills like this really boggles the mind. It’s not clear that the sponsors haven’t been living under rocks since November.”

But unfortunately for the women in Michigan, this is hardly the only recent attack on their reproductive rights. Their lawmakers already capitalized on the lame duck session at the end of last year to push through extreme anti-abortion legislation that limits abortion access for women who live in rural areas, requires doctors to prove that mentally competent women haven’t been “coerced” into their decision to have the procedure, and enacts unnecessary, complicated rules for abortion clinics and providers.

Abortion opponents often use mandatory ultrasounds as a tactic to impose additional barriers to reproductive care, as well as convince women to change their minds about having an abortion. But they don’t work. Studies have shown that nearly 90 percent of women feel “very confident” about their decision to have an abortion before they approach a doctor, and forcing them to look at an ultrasound doesn’t change their mind.


Talking Points Memo reports that Michigan Democrats are now calling on their governor to publicly threaten to veto the extreme legislation. “Rick Snyder should come out publicly and denounce this extreme, Tea Party bill, which would invade women’s privacy and endanger their health with an unnecessary medical procedure,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said in a statement.

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