17 States Defend Laws Allowing Women to See Ultrasound of Baby Before Abortion

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 31, 2018   |   3:22PM   |   Washington, DC

Attorneys general in 17 states defended an Indiana law Thursday that requires abortion facilities to offer women the chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby prior to their abortion.

The state leaders submitted their brief this week to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Huntingdon News reports. Planned Parenthood challenged the law in 2016, and a 7th Circuit panel sided with the abortion chain in July.

However, the state attorneys general argued that the court erred in its decision.

Planned Parenthood basically has been allowed “manufacture burdens” to block state laws that it finds economically inconvenient, the attorneys general argued.

“It is hard to imagine a regulation that [Planned Parenthood] could not challenge through that strategy,” they wrote.

Indiana has long required that an ultrasound be done before an abortion, but, in 2016, the law was updated to require that the ultrasound be done at least 18 hours before an abortion. Women also are required to received additional informed consent information at least 18 hours prior to an abortion.

“I respect and defend life at all stages and will continue to fight for the lives of the unborn,” West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey said when they filed the brief. “The image of an unborn child inside of its mother’s body no doubt qualifies as pertinent medical information relevant to the ultimate decision whether to undergo an elective abortion.”

Here’s more from the report:

The coalition argues that giving an ultrasound image to those who are seeking an abortion falls in line with informed consent laws already enforced by Indiana and other states. Such laws provide women with accurate information that is relevant to their decision to undergo an abortion and allows some period of reflection to ensure their decision is informed and deliberate.

The brief contends an earlier opinion by the court’s three-judge panel directly conflicts with prior rulings, including those of the U.S. Supreme Court.

West Virginia joined the Louisiana-led brief with Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.

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An ultrasound is standard practice prior to an abortion. Planned Parenthood leaders have admitted that their policy requires that an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion.

However, Planned Parenthood’s Indiana affiliate claims the new law would place an undue burden on women’s access to abortion because their facilities do not have enough ultrasound machines and women would have to wait longer and make multiple trips to have abortions under the law.

The attorneys general refuted this claim in their brief, arguing: “The four abortion-providing centers (and two others) already had ultrasound machines necessary for counseling under the ultrasound law, and PPINK [Planned Parenthood] could obtain similar equipment at other centers – it simply does not intend to do so. Slip Op. At 25-27. In other words, the ultrasound law is potentially burdensome to Indiana women in large part because PPINK chooses not to make pre-abortion counseling more accessible.”

A federal judge blocked the law in 2017, but Indiana appealed. Then, earlier this year, a panel of the 7th Circuit also ruled against the state.

Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter, in comments to LifeNews, denounced the panel’s ruling in July. Fichter said Indiana’s abortion numbers rose dramatically in 2017 following the blockage of Indiana’s ultrasound law by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.

The increase of 496 abortions in 2017 compared to 2016 marks the first upward swing in abortions in Indiana since 2009, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Ultrasounds both before and after the abortion are standard procedure. An ultrasound prior to an abortion helps determine the gestational age of the unborn baby, as well as potentially life-threatening conditions such as ectopic pregnancy. Afterward, abortion facilities typically perform another ultrasound to make sure they did not leave any parts of the aborted baby in the womb.

If Indiana appeals, the case could head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently, the high court is split evenly with conservative and liberal justices. If President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed, the court would have a 5-4 conservative majority.