Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pennsylvania's Ultrasound Abortion Bill

You may  have read about the bill proposed in Virginia that women had to have a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion.  Pennsylvania has a similar bill.  It does not spell out that the ultrasound has to be a transvaginal untrasound but that may be understood given the development of the pregnancy when it is done.

HB 1077 seems flawed to me on a number of levels.  In several places the bill states that personhood begins at fertilization.   I'm not sure that is accepted state law at this point.  If the bill passes it could have far ranging implications.  It could, for instance, curtail or outlaw in vitro fertilization, as this process often results in unused embryos.  If those embryos are people can they be created, knowing that some would be discarded?  Would this bill criminalize natural miscarriage?  Would doctors have to report and police investigate natural miscarriages to make sure no actions of the woman or anyone else instigated or hastened the miscarriage?  It's a very slippery slope.

The woman has to be given a printout of the ultrasound which she has to give to the facility performing the abortion, and the facility  has to keep it in her file for at least seven years.  What if the facility closes?  What happens to the files then?

The fee for the ultrasound has to be separate from the fee from the abortion.  So it sounds like this is an added expense. 

Women have to indicate whether or not they chose to hear the hearbeat (if one exists) or view the video of ultrasound and the doctor has to keep this information on file for at least seven years. 

There are exemptions from some, but not all, of the requirements of the bill in the case of rape, incest or medical emergency, but the doctor has to fill out a form on this and keep it in the files as well as report it to the state. 

The identity of the woman is to remain private unless disclosure is "appropriate to carry out the purposes of this act."  What does that mean?
Doctors face a $5,000 fine if they don't follow all the requirements.

If one part of the act is declared invalid the other parts remain.  

I think this bill is hastily written, overly punitive, and regards women as unable to make their own decisions.  It is distressing to see state reps that I had heretofore thought well of signing on as co-sponsors.

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