South Carolina appears close to becoming the first state in the country to require that women considering an abortion view an ultrasound image of their fetus before deciding to undergo the procedure.
The state House has passed the legislation 91-23, prospects that the Senate will pass it look good and Gov. Mark Sanford has stated his support for the initiative.
Opponents call it "intimidation" and "emotional blackmail" of women seeking to abort.
According to NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan, "The women of South Carolina are fully capable of asking their doctor for information they need to make private, personal medical decisions. Politicians don't belong in the examining room."
Seventeen states already have or are considering legislation that would ensure that ultrasound viewing is available to women considering abortion. But South Carolina would be the first to make the viewing mandatory.
Those advancing the legislation feel that the state must guarantee that women considering abortion have all available relevant information before making this life-changing decision. The powerful images that ultrasound makes possible are surely relevant. I support this view and support the legislation.
Anyone who follows me and my work knows that I am staunchly "pro-life." I aggressively support and work with the nationwide crisis-pregnancy-center movement that counsels women considering abortion, encourages them to have their children and helps them with their lives after they give birth.
From the vantage point of we who deeply care about the abortion debate, there isn't much in the way of shades of gray. It's black and white _ a clashing of fundamentally different worldviews. Which is why the emotions run so deep.
An increasing number of crisis-pregnancy centers now have ultrasound equipment that allows clients to see the child developing within them. Their experience shows that there is little question that this materially impacts the decision that women make. Centers report that anywhere from 62 percent up to 95 percent of women who had intended to abort changed their minds after seeing the images.
Assuming that these statistics are accurate, the question remains whether these young women changed their minds because their perceptions of the reality with which they were dealing changed, or because they were intimidated or emotionally blackmailed.
Intimidation or blackmail implies some kind of threat. What exactly might that threat be?
You might say that a young woman with a pregnancy she did not intend is emotionally vulnerable. I would agree with that.