LANSING, MI, February 8, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Abortion supporters have launched a fierce attack against an ultrasound bill introduced in Michigan that they say will mandate “invasive” transvaginal ultrasounds.

The legislation requires that a mother seeking an abortion be given the option to view an ultrasound, hear her baby’s heartbeat, receive an ultrasound photo, and hear an explanation of the image.

While the bill makes no mention of transvaginal ultrasounds, it does say that abortion facilities should use the “most technologically advanced ultrasound equipment” available at the location. Opponents of the bill have interpreted this as meaning transvaginal ultrasounds.

Right to Life of Michigan has said that the “most technologically advanced” language has been misinterpreted, and that it was designed merely to prevent the deceptive practice of some abortionists who deliberately show women images from older ultrasound machines that give a grainy image.

They then use a much newer ultrasound machine to perform the actual abortion.

Nonetheless, several news agencies have repeated the abortion lobby's claim, running articles with headlines referring to the bill as the “transvaginal ultrasound bill.”

The Republican Speaker of the House, Rep. Jase Bolger, has responded to the controversy saying that he will not allow a vote on any bill that requires a vaginal ultrasound.

"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," said Bolger, R-Marshall.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, has said that he never intended to mandate any particular type of ultrasound, and that he will look into amending the bill to make that explicit if necessary.

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Right to Life of Michigan has said it is “regrettable” that Rep. Johnson’s goal of ensuring women receive accurate information before undergoing an abortion is being “deliberately misused to serve an agenda of misinformation.”

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, ultrasounds are already being used before 86.6 percent of Michigan’s abortions to confirm pregnancy. The legislation would simply make sure that women are given the opportunity to see what the abortionist sees.

The experience of pro-life activists on the ground in crisis pregnancy centers is that many abortion-bound women who see an ultrasound image of their child opt against going through with the abortion.

The heated rhetoric being lobbed against the Michigan bill is reminiscent of the debate over similar legislation that was introduced last year in Virginia.

During that debate abortion supporters said requiring transvaginal ultrasounds was akin to mandating “rape,” with one Democrat politician saying that “object sexual penetration is a serious sex crime in Virginia.” 

But pro-life activists in the state had accused opponents of the bill of pulling the transvaginal requirement out of thin air, while pointing out that a majority of abortion facilities already perform transvaginal ultrasounds as a matter of course, particularly in early term abortions. 

In one 2003 study, published in the journal Contraception, 83 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities performing early surgical abortions said they “always” performed a vaginal ultrasound prior to performing the abortions. Sixteen percent said they did a vaginal ultrasound “sometimes,” and only one percent said they “never” did them. 

“Vaginal ultrasound was very common before the medical abortion, with 37 (92 percent) sites reporting that they always performed it,” the study continued. “Vaginal ultrasound was always performed after early medical abortion in 35 (87 percent) sites, performed under certain conditions in 4 (10 percent) sites, and never performed in 1 (3 percent) site.”

The Virginia bill passed and was signed into law after being amended to explicitly state that it did not require a vaginal ultrasound.