This is the law that is currently pending in my state of Pennsylvania, and has already passed or is pending in many other states in the US.
An Act providing for ultrasound test requirements to determine gestational ages of unborn children; establishing the right to view ultrasound image and ultrasound video of unborn child and the right to observe or hear the fetal heartbeat; providing for powers and duties of the Department of Health and for duties of physicians performing abortions; requiring certain reports to be filed with the Department of Health; imposing administrative sanctions and criminal penalties; and providing for remedies.
In order to see a fetus that is less than twelve weeks old in all but the most slender women (and in all women under six weeks pregnant), a vaginal ultrasound is required.
This is a transvaginal ultrasound wand.
This is a woman holding a transvaginal ultrasound wand. See how big it is?
This is what a transvaginal ultrasound looks like when it’s inside your body.
Medical professionals do NOT require (nor want to perform) transvaginal ultrasounds prior to performing abortions. They are not considered a necessary diagnostic tool in all cases (in some they are).
The point of doing the ultrasound, of course, is to force women to “see” the fetus prior to termination in hopes that they will change their minds. Most laws require that the monitor be positioned so that the woman receiving the ultrasound has to see it.
This is what they see.
This is what a transvaginal ultrasound sees at less than eight weeks pregnant, when 58% of abortions are performed (according to the CDC).
This is what a transvaginal ultrasound reveals at less than 13 weeks pregnant, when 91.6% of abortions are performed.
Here’s what the (mostly male) politicians don’t know about transvaginal ultrasounds.
• They hurt. A lot.
• They take a long time.
• In order to see the fetus, the medical professional using the wand often has to move the wand around inside you, pressing hard into your cervix, increasing your pain considerably.
• To position the wand for the best results, the technician often has their fist against your vulva.
• I’ll say it again: they HURT.
• It is the most invasive medical procedure I’ve personally experienced because it involves a very large object being placed inside my body. Yes, it’s more invasive than a traditional pelvic exam in my experience because of the way it presses into your cervix.
There is no medical evidence to support ultrasound laws. They are a waste of taxpayer dollars and do nothing to accomplish the goal of reducing abortion. They also create a dangerous precedent of allowing hypocritical politicians to set unacceptably low standards of medical care based on political goals, religion, and misogyny.
In her post, Dr. Gunter also mentions that required ultrasounds are often paid for by the women, thereby increasing abortion costs beyond what some women can afford, and also delays their ability to get the procedure, pushing them into requiring a more expensive procedure.
I’ve had literally dozens of transvaginal ultrasounds, mostly while undergoing fertility treatment. I grinned and bore it throughout because I desperately WANTED my daughter. But being required to undergo the procedure against my will?
Yeah. It would feel like being medically assaulted, and like being held hostage. The law is saying “allow me to invade your body against your will, and only THEN will you be allowed to terminate your pregnancy (taking back control of your body).
This is wrong.