- See Washington Post commentary on this bill and other ultrasound laws by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Kathleen Parker, Women Should be Informed Before They Abort (May 2, 2010).
April 29, 2010
The following statement can be attributed to Dorinda Bordlee, Vice President and Senior Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, a public-interest law and policy organization that advocates for the human right to life. Bordlee is a co-drafter of La. Senate Bill 528 and offered testimony in the La. Senate Health and Welfare Committee to clarify its provisions :
As reported by the Times-Picayune, the Louisiana Senate Health and Welfare Committee yesterday passed an important life-saving bill — the “Ultrasound Before Abortion Act” by Senate President Pro Tempore Sharon Weston Broome (D-BR). Here’s the inside action:
The bill advances several life-saving provisions, but was watered down with weakening amendments offered by Senator Joe McPherson (D-Alexandria). Earlier, the committee had defeated bad amendments by Senator David Heitmeier (D-New Orleans) that reflected the Planned Parenthood position that ultrasounds before abortion should not be required by law.
Testimony by Post-abortive women
BDF drafted this bill was drafted at the request of Senator Broome and La. Right to Life based on the experience of post-abortive women who testified in committee that they were consistently told that there was only a blob of tissue before the abortion. Many women learn later upon viewing an ultrasound of a subsequent pregnancy that their child was fully formed at the stage they had aborted.
Testimony was given about a woman who was not given an ultrasound before her abortion. Instead of seeing her baby on the ultrasound screen she saw the parts of her baby in a tray beside her, being told “look, it was twins”. She suffered significant physical and emotional trauma because she was not fully informed prior to the abortion.
What the bill says
La. Senate Bill 528 as amended and passed by the committee requires:
(1) that at least 24 hours before an abortion, the abortion provider give the woman a list of centers that provide free obstetric ultrasound (compiled by the La. DHH); and
(2) that if the woman returns, an ultrasound must be performed at least two hours before the abortion to determine the viability of the unborn child. The woman must be given the option to view the ultrasound, hear an explanation, and receive a sealed envelope containing a photographic print depicting the unborn child.
The original bill would have required that the ultrasound screen be in view of the woman and that she be given the option to avert her eyes. However, Senator McPherson amended the bill to remove the requirement that the screen be in view. His amendments also removed the requirement that the woman must receive a sealed envelope containing the print. Instead, the abortionist must only offer the envelope and is thus prone to do so in a discouraging manner.
Concerning the amendments, Bordlee explained, “The abortion provider has a financial interest in discouraging women from opting to view the screen or even to accept the sealed envelope containing the print that she could later choose to view or to discard. Therefore, Senator McPherson’s amendments weaken the bill by trusting the fox to fairly offer options in the chicken house.“
How the Senate Committee voted:
The Senators voting for the weakening amendments included Senators Joe McPherson (D-Alexandria), Yvonne Dorsey (D-BR), Butch Gautreaux (D-Morgan City), David Heitmeier (D-New Orleans), and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orelans).
The Senators who supported the original language of Senator Broome’s pro-life bill include Chairwoman Willie Mount (R-Lake Charles), Sherri Cheek (R-Keithville), Dale Erdey (R-Livingston), and Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa).
On final passage of the amended bill, only Senators Yvonne Dorsey (D-BR), and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orelans) voted against the bill.
“While the bill as originally drafted would have been a home-run for empowering women against the deceptive self-interest of abortionists, we are grateful that the bill moves us forward through the bases,” said Bordlee. The bill now heads to the Senate floor before being considered in the Louisiana House.
Louisiana citizens: Take 2 minutes to contact your Senator with a pre-written message about the value of the Ultrasound Before Abortion Act. You can add your own thoughts if you’d like: