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The Truth About Transvaginal Ultrasounds

The Truth About Transvaginal Ultrasounds
By: Brenda Zurita - 2/13/2013

“Safe, legal, and rare!” That’s the mantra we hear from abortion supporters.

Legal it is. Even if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, it would be up to each state to decide how it would handle abortions. Some states might outlaw abortions and others would make it legal up to the moment before a baby leaves the birth canal (which is currently allowed and often referred to as a “late-term abortion.”)

Rare it is not. It has been 40 years since the fateful decision in Roe v. Wade, and during those decades approximately 55,772,015 children have been killed by abortion.

That leaves us with “safe,” which is an odd word choice for a procedure that leaves at least one human being dead every time it is employed.

The state of Michigan has a new bill (House Bill 4187) that seeks to add to the existing public health code statute, which includes “safeguards that will best protect a woman seeking advice concerning abortion.” H.B. 4187 adds this passage [Sec. 17014 (i)(iii)] to the current statute:

The performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus at least 2 hours before an abortion is performed with the woman given the option to view the active ultrasound image of the fetus, hear the fetal heartbeat, receive a physical picture of the ultrasound image of the fetus, and hear an explanation of the ultrasound image of the fetus. The performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus, now a standard practice at abortion facilities, protects the health of the woman seeking an abortion by verifying an intrauterine pregnancy, as undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies can result in potentially fatal complications and infertility. The performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus further protects the interests of the woman seeking an abortion by assessing the viability of the fetus and confirming the approximate gestational age of the fetus, as this information is necessary in order to determine appropriate medical care for the woman seeking an abortion.

The bill further amends Sec. 17015 by adding (h):

(h) “Most technologically advanced ultrasound equipment available at that location” means ultrasound imaging equipment that meets both of the following requirements:

(i) Is capable, in comparison to other ultrasound imaging equipment at the location, of providing the most visibly clear image of the gross anatomical development of the fetus and the most audible fetal heartbeat.

(ii) Is present in the clinical area within a building where the patient counseling, preoperative procedures, and abortion are to be performed.

(iii) Is under the supervision and discretion of the attending physician or qualified person assisting the physician to utilize for diagnostic or operative purposes.

(iii) Is under the supervision and discretion of the attending physician or qualified person assisting the physician to utilize for diagnostic or operative purposes.

The term “most technologically advanced ultrasound equipment” sent the abortion supporters into a tizzy, claiming the bill requires transvaginal ultrasounds (a more fevered reaction was seen in Virginia in 2012 with an ultrasound bill wherein opponents claimed transvaginal ultrasounds are a form of rape.)

Salon.com quoted Donna Crane, the policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, saying about the Michigan bill, “We shouldn’t be forcing anybody in this country to get any medical procedure against their will.” She expressed that the “‘transvaginal’ part of the ultrasound is just an ‘additional insult.’”

The same article quoted Elizabeth Nash, State Issues Manager of the Guttmacher Institute, who cited the part of the bill that specifies the need for equipment that “is capable, in comparison to other ultrasound imaging equipment at the location, of providing the most visibly clear image of the gross anatomical development of the fetus and the most audible fetal heartbeat. That to me points to using a transvaginal ultrasound.” The article says she thinks the language of the bill is “‘mushy’ and doesn’t specifically reference a ‘transvaginal’ ultrasound,” but that did not inhibit her from raising the issue.

The way pro-abortion supporters decry this procedure you would think it is some torture device created by pro-lifers to discourage mothers from aborting their children. Do you know what organization utilizes transvaginal ultrasounds? If you guessed the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, you are correct. From their website about prenatal testing services:

Ultrasound allows a health care provider to take pictures of the embryo or fetus as it develops. An ultrasound scan builds a picture of the embryo or fetus on a screen by bouncing sound waves into your uterus. Ultrasound is also called a sonogram. Depending on when it is done during pregnancy, it may

confirm your due date find certain abnormalities find multiple pregnancies measure the length of your cervix show the position and size of the fetus show the position of the placenta

Ultrasound is a very safe procedure – no x-rays are involved

The website further describes ultrasounds:

There are two ways to do an ultrasound – through the abdomen or through the vagina. Ultrasounds may be performed by your health care provider or by a trained ultrasound technician.

During an abdominal ultrasound, your provider will place the ultrasound wand on your abdomen, using a small amount of gel to help lubricate the area. You may feel pressure during the exam, but it is not painful.

During a vaginal ultrasound, your provider will insert the ultrasound wand into the vagina. This may feel similar to a vaginal exam. You may feel pressure during the exam, but it is not painful.

So Planned Parenthood utilizes abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds for prenatal appointments, but how about for abortions? According to their website, they may utilize ultrasounds for patients seeking the abortion pill and in-clinic abortions.

How frequently do they use vaginal ultrasounds? A lifenews.com story discussed a 2003 survey of 113 Planned Parenthood affiliates that found 99 percent of them always or sometimes used them:

A Commentary Magazine article says Planned Parenthood policy requires ultrasounds before abortion procedures and quotes a Planned Parenthood official:

“That’s just the medical standard,” said Adrienne Schreiber, an official at Planned Parenthood’s Washington, D.C., regional office. “To confirm the gestational age of the pregnancy, before any procedure is done, you do an ultrasound.”

According to Schreiber, Planned Parenthood does require women to give signed consent for abortion procedures, including the ultrasound. But if the women won’t consent to the ultrasound, the abortion cannot take place, according to the group’s national standards.

Schreiber said there are several options at that point. If the woman is uncomfortable with a transvaginal ultrasound, which is more invasive, she can wait until the fetus is large enough to opt for a transabdominal ultrasound.

“But if she’s uncomfortable with a transvaginal ultrasound, then she’s not going to be comfortable with an equally invasive abortion procedure,” Schreiber told me.

Perhaps Michigan’s Republican Speaker of the House, Rep. Jase Bolger, should have done a little more research on the topic (and read the bill) before he said, “While I want to be sure women have access to the best technology available, I have absolutely no interest in forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound.” Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s spokesman also took aim at the bill, “Gov. Snyder is not at all supportive of this legislation and has zero interest in seeing it come to his desk,” said Sara Wurfel.

Pro-abortion supporters in Michigan are probably high-fiving each other after reading those quotes. Abortion providers already perform these types of ultrasounds, because they need to know how far along the baby is before they abort it; they just do not want the mother to see the images they use to make the procedure “safe” for her. Many women change their mind when they see their baby on the screen, and that’s bad for business.

Much as the “right to privacy” emerged from the penumbras of the Constitution, mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds emerged from the penumbras of House Bill 4187. The more light that shines on the abortion industry, the more it seeks to hide the truth of what it does in the shadows.

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