Abortion advocates say legislation to require an ultrasound prior to an abortion has no real medical purpose, and may not even achieve the intended effect. The proposed state law would force the mother to listen to the heartbeat, and have the development of the pregnancy described to her if she chooses not to look at the image.
The head of Middle Tennessee’s Planned Parenthood says the bill is only meant to “shame women.” He says very little can be seen through an ultrasound so early in a pregnancy.
But, the bill’s co-sponsor, Representative Rick Womick of Rutherford County, argues that indications of life can be seen in the first 12 weeks.
“You’ll see the outline of the spinal column, you’ll see the head, and you’ll start to see the formation of the arms. So, yes, you can still see quite a bit in the first trimester. And hear.”
According to recent Centers for Disease Control statistics, two thirds of abortions in Tennessee occur before the 8th week of pregnancy, the time when a heartbeat is typically heard.
Womick’s legislation is modeled after a Texas law enacted in 2011. A lawsuit was filed against the state, but the mandated ultrasounds were ultimately upheld.