Friday June 18, 2010

Michigan Bill Demands Abortionists Give Women Best Ultrasound Images

By Peter J. Smith

Updated: 06/18/10, 6:22pm EST

LANSING, Michigan, June 18, 2010 ( – The Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a measure to tighten up the state’s informed consent laws. The bill would mandate that mothers seeking an abortion receive high quality images of their unborn babies from the best ultrasound equipment available at the abortion facility.

Under Michigan’s 2006 informed consent law, abortionists are required to give an ultrasound examination to a mother seeking an abortion, and must give her the option to view the live ultrasound screen and to receive a material picture of the unborn baby prior to the performance of an abortion.

However, Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland) believes abortionists may be using out-of-date ultrasound equipment to comply with the letter of the law, while ignoring its intent: to provide women considering abortion with the best quality images of their unborn baby before making an irreversible decision.

“Our intent [in enacting the 2006 law] was to ensure women considering abortion had access to as much information as possible before making this life and death decision,” Kuipers told the Judiciary Committee, which began its discussions on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, some facilities may be disregarding the intent of the law by using old equipment to intentionally produce poor-quality images.”

Kuipers is the principal sponsor of SB 1283, which states: “the physician or person assisting the physician shall ensure that the most technologically advanced ultrasound equipment available at that location is used for the ultrasound examination, for viewing an active ultrasound image, and for creating the physical picture of the ultrasound image.”

“My hope is really that when women have an opportunity to see that it is not just a mass of tissue, but it actually has the shape of a baby, that they might change their mind, and not go through with the abortion after all,” Kuipers told in an interview Friday.

Ed Rivet, Legislative Director of Michigan Right to Life, which is working with Kuipers to improve the legislation, said that flags were first raised when a woman went to an abortion clinic in Grand Rapids and got a “bad, blurry image” as her copy of the ultrasound. The woman then went to a nearby crisis pregnancy center, where she received another ultrasound. Rivet said that in the second ultrasound image “you could see very clearly that there was a developing child.”

Members of the Judiciary Committee received copies of the 2 ultrasounds to compare the differences.

Rivet speculated that, “What we are seeing is that women are having ultrasounds on older machines, while abortionists were using ultrasound machines giving them the best resolution possible to destroy that child.”

But he added, “It may just be that they were purposely blurring the image that they were showing to these pregnant women. They just didn’t hit the focus button, so to speak.”

One of the Senate Committee members pointed out that even if abortionists are using the best ultrasound technology possible, women would not receive high quality pictures if the scanner is out of focus.

Kuipers told LSN that the observation is very helpful, because it will help him and pro-life advocates improve the language of the bill.

“We’re looking at and exploring what that language has to look like – that not only is the best technology used, but with the best resolution, and that the image must also be in focus. Clearly the intent with the legislation is to fine tune the language so that is clear.”

Kuipers said the bill is being redrafted and rewritten. If they complete their work by next Tuesday, the Judiciary Committee will be able to take up the bill. If they need more time to finish, then the committee will likely take up the bill the Tuesday after that.

Rivet said they are excited to take a look at the revisions the Louisiana legislature adopted to its own informed consent laws. In particular, he cited the requirement that the ultrasound be given 2 hours prior to an abortion, and prior to the woman having had any medication, so she can make an informed decision in a lucid state of mind. (See coverage here)

He also added that a possibility for enforcing compliance by abortionists may be to establish a particular liability, a “deterrent” such as civil action, for the violation of standard of care, which is also an element of the Louisiana legislation.

“So clearly if you’re doing blurry ultrasounds and handing out blurry printouts then you are engaged in inadequate care and so forth,” Rivet said.

Kuipers expects that the bill will pass through the Senate, and he believes the bipartisan pro-life majority in the House of Representatives will carry the bill through any obstacles. However, he said he is not certain what action pro-abortion Gov. Jennifer Granholm would take on the bill, though he believes “it would be a pretty difficult bill to veto.”

“I think the governor is on record saying she would like abortions ‘rare,’” said Kuipers. “This language would result in having a woman, or several women, or multiple women change their minds. And I think that would be a good thing.”

See related coverage by

‘Bayou State’ Scores another Pro-Life Win with Ultrasound Act