It all started with Mississippi. On March 27th, 2007, the state’s governor signed a law stating that all women seeking an abortion must be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound of the fetus. A conservative state, Mississippi government officials believe this decision will dissuade women from carrying through with their intended abortion.

Other “red” states quickly followed suit, and Georgia, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and others now have similar legislation. Viewing the ultrasound is, of course, optional, and a woman may sign a waiver stating that she was given the opportunity but declined.

South Carolina is now trying to take this government intrusion on medical privacy one step further. Pro-life lobbyists in South Carolina want to make it mandatory that women must view the ultrasound before they are able to obtain an abortion.

Medical professionals and other opponents to this bill argue that it forces a medically unnecessary test and serves as a barrier to health care.

I honestly can’t see a bill like this having a great effect at reducing the number of abortions. I guess mandatory ultrasounds will end the tragedy of all the women each year who mistakenly go to Planned Parenthood thinking they’re going to get a wisdom tooth or kidney stone removed.

But really, what kind of person would change their mind about having an abortion (a decision which they’ve probably already given a grueling amount of thought to!) by seeing a picture of a smudge that doesn’t look anything like a human?

The only women it seems likely to dissuade are those who are already uncertain about getting an abortion or in really vulnerable states. Laws like these are paternalistic and insulting to women, implying that we don’t know enough to make our own personal medical decisions.

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