Do we want the government ordering doctors to perform invasive medical procedures and reporting to the state how patients react?
That’s the intent of legislation being pushed by 80 of the 109 Republicans in the state House of Representatives in Harrisburg. House Bill 1077 is a horrendous overreach of government and sets a dangerous precedent for the state to interfere in our personal medical decisions and erodes our basic freedoms.
The bill would effectively mandate that most women seeking an abortion in Pennsylvania would be required to undergo a vaginal ultrasound. Supporters contend ultrasounds would ensure women make informed decisions, but they fail to mention that the overwhelming majority of abortions performed in this sate, 93 percent, happen during the first trimester.
In most cases at this early stage, an ultrasound performed externally over a woman’s belly will not produce the adequate image quality. If enacted, this bill would leave most women with no choice but to undergo a vaginal ultrasound, in which a wand is inserted in the vagina, in order to comply with the state law.
This legislation is not about informing women. It’s a blatant attempt by government to embarrass, intimidate and shame women. The bill further implies that women do not take the decision seriously by requiring doctors to include in her medical record whether the woman viewed the ultrasound image. That information is then reported to the state without revealing her identity.
There are minimal exceptions for rape and incest, but the cruel bill even mandates ultrasounds for women who want to be mothers, but make the difficult decision to end her pregnancy to protect her health. That’s heartless and it could inflict emotional and psychological damage that remains with her for a lifetime.
House Republicans were fast-tracking this legislation toward a final vote until widespread opposition in Pennsylvania, and other states considering similar bills, forced them to temporarily delay action. It’s a dangerous abuse of governmental power, and Republicans who control the state House should abandon the bill. As a pro-life Democrat and a father, I believe the state should pursue policies to reduce unintended pregnancies and provide women with alternatives to abortion, not bully them.
Decisions about medical procedures should be made by the patient and doctor. The legislature, composed mostly of men, must stay out of a woman’s exam room and stop trying to create more government mandates that interfere with individual liberty and private decision. You’d think Republicans would know that.
Marc Gergely is a Pennsylvania state representative, 35th Legislative District, D-Allegheny.