NARAL President Nancy Keenan Disregards Women’s Health

Opinion   |   Bill Saunders and Mailee Smith   |   Jan 19, 2012   |   4:18PM   |   Washington, DC

Abortion proponents continue to lament last week’s Fifth Circuit opinion upholding Texas’ ultrasound requirement, and their arguments demonstrate just how “behind the times” they are.

On Sunday, AUL President & CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest appeared on Fox News Channel and debated Nancy Keenan of NARAL. While Dr. Yoest debated the merits of informed consent and the fact that even the Firth Circuit dubbed the keeping information from women to be “abusive,” Nancy Keenan just kept saying that the Texas law “forces a woman to have an ultrasound against her will.”

Sorry, Nancy, but the part of the law requiring an ultrasound before abortion was not even on appeal.

The reason is that ultrasound has become the “gold standard” of abortion providers. Countless times in state legislative sessions, we have heard abortion providers claim that ultrasound requirements are unnecessary because they “already perform” ultrasounds before abortion. Indeed, ultrasound requirements serve an essential medical purpose in that they diagnose ectopic pregnancies which, if left undiagnosed, can result in infertility or even fatal blood loss.

And that is probably why even the federal district court in Texas—the court that was overruled by the Fifth Circuit last week—didn’t even question whether requiring an ultrasound before abortion is constitutional. It is generally recognized as good medical practice. Ultrasound makes abortion safer for women.

What this means, of course, is that NARAL is arguing against good medical practice. But that is no surprise. We know that women’s health and safety is not an agenda item for the abortion industry, and this weekend Nancy Keenan gave us a demonstrable sound bite of her lack of concern for women’s health.

It appears that Nancy is years behind the ultrasound debate. Which makes it all the more likely that she is years behind the debate in other areas as well. She—and other abortion advocates—claim to be speaking on behalf of women, but as Sunday’s debate demonstrated, they certainly don’t have their facts right. Note: Mailee Smith is a staff counsel at Americans United for Life.