West Virginia House Panel OKs Bill Allowing Women Ultrasound Before Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
March 9, 2010
Charleston, WV (LifeNews.com) — A West Virginia state House committee signed off on a Senate-backed bill that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn children before an abortion. With ultrasounds showing the humanity of the unborn child, pro-life advocates expect the bill to change minds and help women choose life.
The Ultrasound Option bill (SB 597) already received a 25-7 vote in favor of passage and now the House Health and Human Resources Committee passed it 16-9.
The committee discussed the bill for nearly four hours Monday and several amendments to change the bill all failed.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, a Democrat from Monongalia County, opposed the bill during the committee hearing but Delegate Patrick Lane, a Republican from Kanawha County, supported it.
"It provides women with one more piece of information when they’re making such a crucial life and death decision," Lane said, according to WSAZ. "They have an opportunity to take a look at the ultra sound and allow that to inform their decision whether or not to go forward with the abortion."
The bill now goes onto the House Judiciary Committee for a debate and vote before heading to the full state House for consideration.
Some speculation centers on first-year House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, a Democrat, and political observers wonder how he will handle the legislation. He opposes abortion, unlike former chairwoman Carrie Webster who had been responsible for holding up legislation in the past.
Sen. Jeff Kessler, a Democrat from Marshall, is the sponsor of the pro-life measure.
"It’s providing someone with the option to have more information before making a very serious decision," he said.
Noting that an abortion can be a "life-altering decision," he has said he believes women considering one should have as much information as possible.
The legislation, which easily cleared the Senate Health and Judiciary committees last week, amends the existing Womens Right to Know Act which helps women get information about abortion’s risks and alternatives.
West Virginians for Life is strongly supporting the bill while the pro-abortion group WV FREE calls the bill allowing women more information about the development of their unborn child an attempt to coerce them.
Under the legislation, women are not forced to view an ultrasound, but abortion practitioners who do one before an abortion are obligated to inform mothers they have the right to view one.
The bill has earned the endorsement of the Wheeling News-Register newspaper.
"The overwhelming majority of health care providers agree that patients should be as informed as possible before they make critical decisions. That seems obvious. This week, West Virginia state senators will put themselves on record in regard to the matter," it said.
"As anyone who has viewed an ultrasound image of an unborn child can testify, it indeed can be an emotional experience. But it also provides an expectant mother with much more information about the fetus – about whether it should be considered merely a collection of cells or a living human being," the paper added. "We can think of no good reason for legislators not to vote for the bill."
At a recent pro-life rally at the Capitol, the president of West Virginians for Life, Karen Cross, urged pro-life advocates to get behind the bill.
When she sees that (ultrasound image), shes more likely to choose life" because it shows a living, human baby with fingers and toes, and arms and legs," she said.
Information empowers women to make informed choices, Cross added. Ultrasound legislation protects the mothers right to see her unborn child in real-time ultrasound. Because the decision to have an abortion is such a major one, it is only right and proper that the state guarantee the mother access to information relevant to her decision.
Gov. Joe Manchin, a long-time pro-life advocate, has promised to sign the bill should it get to his desk.
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