Indiana lawmakers sparked controversy last week when they proposed a forced ultrasound bill that would go even further than similar measures in states across the country: it would require women to undergo two potentially invasive ultrasounds, both before and after taking the RU-486 abortion pill. State lawmakers are now walking that back, conceding that the legislation doesn’t need to stipulate a second ultrasound — but the first ultrasound requirement remains in place as the full Senate prepares to vote on the legislation on Tuesday.
Indiana senators approved the revision by a unanimous voice vote. The state lawmakers acknowledged that medical professionals themselves should be able to make the decisions about what type of tests are best for their patients, and requiring doctors to perform a second ultrasound is an unnecessary overreach. But even though the exact same logic also applies to the bill’s first forced ultrasound requirement, Republicans weren’t willing to engage in the political fight to drop the anti-choice provision altogether:
Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, sponsored the move to drop the second ultrasound and replace it with a requirement that doctors perform “appropriate testing.” Alting said that would give doctors the option of performing blood or urine tests on their patients.
“I think that physicians know a little bit more about that particular area than legislators,” Alting said.
But when asked why his amendment didn’t remove the requirement for a pre-drug administration ultrasound, Alting said: “I just know that I didn’t have the votes for that to happen.”
The full bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Travis Holdman (R), didn’t object to removing the requirement for the second ultrasound. Still, he stood firm in his belief that the same type of political interference into women’s medical decisions is “essential” before the administration of the abortion pill.
Holdman also brushed aside concerns that requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before taking the abortion pill would necessitate an invasive transvaginal probe — according to the GOP state senator, women’s health advocates’ concerns about mandated transvaginal ultrasounds are simply “a lot of hype.” But, even when legislation like Holdman’s doesn’t specifically stipulate a transvaginal ultrasound requirement, that certainly doesn’t mean the issue isn’t relevant.
Across the country, GOP-sponsored legislation indirectly mandates invasive probes for women seeking abortion — since abdominal ultrasounds aren’t effective in the early stages of pregnancy, women who live in a state with a forced ultrasound law must opt for the more invasive transvaginal procedure if they want to have an abortion before about 12 weeks of pregnancy. If Indiana Republicans don’t want to come between a woman and her doctor, they may want to reconsider requiring an unwanted medical procedure that is much more about manipulating a woman to change her mind about having an abortion than it is about safeguarding a woman’s health.