Imagine this: you're facing an unintended pregnancy. After talking about it with your partner and your family, you decide that abortion is the right choice for you.
You call the doctor, and are told that you have to make two appointments. At the first appointment, you are forced to undergo an ultrasound and have the images described to you. You don't want an ultrasound, and your doctor does not recommend one—but you and your doctor have no choice. Your state has a forced-ultrasound law.
Many states have some type of ultrasound-related law. Some give women the option; others have forced-ultrasound laws that don't give women a choice.
The people behind forced-ultrasound laws claim they just want to give women more "information." But really these laws make women go through invasive medical procedures against their will.
In a free country, we don't force anyone to undergo medical procedures against their will. Women considering abortion—a safe, legal, and constitutionally protected procedure—are no different. Politicians have no place telling a woman she has to have a procedure she does not want and her doctor does not recommend.
The politicians behind these laws don't think about what they mean for women.
- Some forced-ultrasound laws don't even make an exception for survivors of rape or incest, or for women who suffer from extreme emotional distress.
- A doctor could be charged in court for failing to comply with the forced-ultrasound law, even if she doesn't think an ultrasound is in her patient's best interest.
- Some states even require that a woman make multiple trips to the doctor and pay for the ultrasound the state requires. This can put the price of medical care out of reach for some women.
A woman who decides to end a pregnancy should have all the information she wants. Her doctor should provide whatever care he or she recommends as medically necessary. If a woman wants an ultrasound, she should be able to have one.
But forced-ultrasound laws take that decision away from a woman and her doctor and give it to politicians who have never met her and don't know her situation.
Forced ultrasounds are not about providing information. These laws are meant to shame and harass women, and to allow politicians to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship.
We must keep fighting these laws that violate women's freedom and privacy. Every woman should be left alone to make the medical decisions that are best for her and her family.