Friday, June 4, 2010

A step in the right direction [Megan]

A recent New York Times article explored the affects of mandatory ultrasounds performed by abortion providers. Currently three states — Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi — require abortion providers to perform ultrasounds so that women have the choice of seeing inside their wombs before they decide whether or not to terminate their pregnancies.

Sixteen other states have similar legislation, most requiring abortion providers to at least offer the opportunity to view the unborn if an ultrasound is performed as part of the preparation for an abortion procedure. 

Oklahoma lawmakers have taken it a step further. In late April, the Oklahoma Legislature overrode Gov. Brad Henry's veto, enacting a law that not only requires an ultrasound, but a detailed medical description of the embryo or fetus.
Abortion advocates strongly oppose the law, claiming that the ultrasounds do little to sway women's decisions to abort and are insulting to women's ability to make informed decisions. A detailed description adds further insult, they claim.
But it is clear that some decisions are not as "informed" as they may think, even after viewing the ultrasound.

The article reports that in some instances, viewing the ultrasound encourages the decision to abort. The writer quotes one women for whom this was the case:  "'It just looked like a little egg, and I couldn’t see arms or legs or a face,' said Tiesha, 27, who chose to view her 8-week-old embryo before aborting it at the Birmingham clinic. 'It was really the picture of the ultrasound that made me feel it was O.K.'"

Tiesha assumed that what she was viewing was not a human being based on its physical appearance in an early stage of development — never mind the fact that if arms, legs, or a face are requirements for humanity, there are many people who do not qualify. I don't think this woman would advocate taking the lives of amputees, burn victims, or others missing limbs or facial features and feel like "it was O.K." based on their appearances.

Viewing an ultrasound is a half-step in the right direction. As the article indicated, even among women who choose to see the ultrasound, some remain unclear about what they're viewing. 

I think the Oklahoma legislation is a full step in the right direction as far as informing women of exactly what the decision to abort puts to death.

Still, such legislation dances around the heart of the matter. If the state's government is going to such lengths to lessen the number of abortions, they must find something wrong with it. The next question should be as simple as it would be in a one-on-one conversation in which one party says, "I oppose abortion, but..." 

"Why do you oppose it?"

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