Monday, October 27, 2008
Carole Joffe on Oklahoma's Mandatory Ultrasound Law
The Beacon Broadside: Averting Their Eyes from an Assault on Women's Health, by Carole Joffe:
"Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent a pregnant woman from averting her eyes from the ultrasound images required to be provided to and reviewed with her." This is the "good news" of an egregious law recently passed in Oklahoma making ultrasounds mandatory for abortion patients. But though I read the law carefully I couldn't find anything allowing women to also cover their ears during the ultrasound. This is unfortunate, because the law requires that those performing the ultrasound "provide a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting," and also "provide a medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, if present and viewable, and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable." Even those women who are aborting a pregnancy caused by rape or incest are compelled to undergo such mandated ultrasounds.
Ultrasounds have become one of the key weapons of anti-abortion legislators. A number of states require abortion providers to make ultrasounds available; a handful of others make viewing mandatory, but Oklahoma is the first state, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, that requires a woman to hear the description of an ultrasound image.