Michigan Republicans Introduce New Invasive Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill

Making abortion more costly and difficult to obtain by imposing unnecessary procedures
Politics • Views: 24,100

On the heels of Virginia enacting legislation requiring women seeking abortions must have an abdominal ultrasound before having an abortion, Michigan legislators have jumped on the transvaginal ultrasound bill bandwagon. It was introduced by Reps. Johnson, Rendon, Heise, LaFontaine, McBroom, McMillin, Howrylak, Lauwers, Somerville, Haines, Haveman, Brunner, Brown, Hooker, Yonker, Muxlow, Kelly, Denby, Zorn, Franz, Potvin, Kurtz and Genetski.

All are Republicans.

This bill claims that because many abortions are performed in clinics devoted solely to providing abortions, these women might not have all the information they need (claiming a lack of informed consent). They’re using this as a cudgel to require additional time and effort to obtain an abortion. The language of the bill points towards the requirement of a transvaginal ultrasound

Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, noted that most abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy, when a transvaginal ultrasound would be needed to produce a clear image. The bill’s language is “mushy” but “points to using a transvaginal ultrasound,” she said, adding, “A transabdominal ultrasound doesn’t show what I think they would define as the clearest image.”

The bill also states that its goal is to “protec[t] 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.”

As the Daily News indicates, this is a nationwide full-court press by the GOP to roll back access to abortion by imposing unreasonable restrictions and regulations that add costs to the procedure or otherwise attempt to circumvent current federal law that allows reasonable restrictions:

Republicans elsewhere are also putting abortion back on the political radar at a time when party elites hope to move beyond divisive social issues. A new proposed Tennessee law would require a regular ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion, a bill in Alabama would stiffen requirements for abortion clinics in the state and legislation in Arkansas would make it harder for in-state insurance companies to cover abortions under the new national health care law.

But it’s the bill in Michigan, a blue-leaning state that President Obama won in November, that’s drawing the most attention.

“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 says.

Democrats have made clear they’re ready to fight the GOP-controlled statehouse on the issue.

“This is an unnecessary and unwarranted intrusion into the health decisions of women,” a spokeswoman for state House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel told Talking Points Memo. “This is yet another example of the Republican obsession with overregulating people’s private lives.”

Michigan’s Gov. Snyder has signed a number of abortion restrictions previously, including regulating abortion clinics similarly to hospitals as well as screening women seeking abortions, so if it passes the legislature, it’s likely to get enacted.

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