Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has introduced new legislation similar to laws in several states that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound before they have an abortion.
Most abortion centers do ultrasounds to determine the age of the baby at the time of the abortion, but women rarely get a chance to see the results. When shown the ultrasound in a pregnancy center, that provide abortion alternatives, more than 80 percent of women decide against an abortion and keep their baby.
Now, Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, has introduced the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act of 2011 with 29 original cosponsors and she says it is that figure showing how many women choose life after seeing an ultrasound that led her to file the bill.
“A study by Focus on the Family found that when women who were undecided about having an abortion were shown an ultrasound image of the baby, 78 percent chose life,” Bachmann said. “My legislation will not only enable this technology to be better used to protect life, but also to ensure that a woman who is considering abortion is finally able to give full and informed consent.”
“A pregnant woman who enters an abortion clinic is faced with a decision that will forever change two lives,” Bachmann said of the bill in a statement. “That’s why she must have the very best information with which to make that decision. The ‘Heartbeat Informed Consent Act,’ that I introduced today, would require that abortion providers make the unborn child’s heartbeat visible through ultrasound, describe the cardiac activity, and make the baby’s heartbeat audible, if the child is old enough for it to be detectable.”
The legislation makes it so abortion practitioners must obtain the consent of the mother considering the abortion to show the ultrasound and they may not do the abortion until they have given women a chance to see it or decline the option. The bill says nothing in it prevents women from “averting her eyes from the ultrasound images” if she chooses not to see them.
The legislation penalizes abortion practitioners who fail to give women the ultrasound option by subjecting them to fines as high as $100,000 for not following the law and as much as $250,000 for repeat offenses.
Several pro-life groups have endorsed the legislation, including Heartbeat International, a national trade group for pregnancy centers that provide abortion alternatives for women.
“The image of the baby in utero is nature’s truth displayed. The heartbeat is the honest indication that there is life in the womb. Ultrasound technology makes visible the facts of life. These are the vital facts that each woman needs to know when considering the future of her pregnancy and the future of her family. These are also the critical facts that abortion facilities often choose to leave out when selling abortion,” the group said. “This legislation has been introduced to ensure that women seeking an abortion receive an ultrasound and an opportunity to review the ultrasound before giving informed consent to proceed with an abortion.”
“In addition to practical help and emotional support, pregnancy centers provide medically accurate information to women facing untimely pregnancies. Staff and volunteers explain the scientific aspects of human development and often share a plastic model that is the true to life size of the baby growing in the client’s womb,” the group added. “In our abortion recovery programs, women often tell us that they were duped into believing that their baby was “just a blob of tissue.” This deception very often intensifies the trauma that women experience after abortion.”
“Heartbeat International supports federal legislation calling for the ultrasound option before consenting to abortion because it will give each woman the opportunity to see for herself that her baby’s heart is beating 22 days after conception,” Heartbeat concluded.
National Right to Life, the Family Research Council, American’s United for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other pro-life groups also support the bill.