South Dakota Lawmakers Try Again to Require Ultrasound Before Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 16, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Lawmakers Try Again to Require Ultrasound Before Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 16,

Pierre, SD ( — South Dakota lawmakers are trying a second time to require the state’s lone abortion business to show women an ultrasound of their unborn child before doing the abortion. With advances in the technology, ultrasounds images show the humanity of the unborn child in a way that Planned Parenthood normally doesn’t explain.

Sen. Dennis Schmidt and Rep. Roger Hunt are introducing companion bills in the South Dakota Senate and House, respectively.

Schmidt talked about his Senate Bill 88 on Tuesday with the Argus Leader newspaper, and said the requirement is not on the woman to see it but on the abortion practitioner to give women considering an abortion the opportunity.

He also said he hopes it will persuade many women to reconsider an abortion decision.

"We’re just asking that doctors ask them, face to face, ‘Do you want to see it? Do you want to hear the heartbeat?’" he said. "The woman can say ‘yes or no.’ But if a person sees the sonogram and hears the heartbeat, they might not make the decision they were going to."

The measure requires abortion practitioners to note the date and time of the offer to view the ultrasound and women have a chance to say in writing that they don’t want to see it.

It would also require an annual report to the state health department on the number of times a woman was shown or declined to see the ultrasound and what percentage of women in each category ultimately had an abortion.

Kate Looby, Planned Parenthood’s state director, told the Argus Leader she isn’t sure if the abortion business will oppose the bill.

"We haven’t had a chance to delve into what it says, or make any decisions on it," she said.

However, in comments to AP, she blasted the measure.

"South Dakota already has some of the most restrictive laws in the country regulating abortion," she said. "This is just another attempt to manipulate women who are already facing a very difficult, private decision."

"This is just one more piece of divisive legislation pitting legislators against each other," Looby added. "South Dakotans are looking for real solutions to reduce the need for abortion, not more abortion politics."

As reported last year, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee defeated a similar measure even though the state House approved the bill on a 43-24 vote.

However, lobbying from the State Medical Association resulted in the bill’s defeat on a 5-2 vote.

Hunt told the Argus Leader that it was tough to run the ultrasound bill so soon after the statewide debate on the abortion ban.

"People were tired," Hunt said. "So we allowed it to die in the Senate committee. We said, ‘We’ll wait and run it again next year.’ I don’t think there’s any doubt it has a better chance now."

Related web sites:
South Dakota State Legislature –
South Dakota Right to Life –