Opinion

Serious about reducing abortion? Make women see an ultrasound of the procedure.

A law that requires women seeking an abortion to watch an ultrasound video of the procedure would save lives and enhance 'choice.' 

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After watching an ultrasound of an abortion last year, Abby Johnson resigned from her position as director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, and joined a pro-life group. 

Ms. Johnson’s story shows the potential for using technology to dramatically lower the number of abortions by changing people’s hearts and minds. Imagine how many lives could be saved by passing a law that requires abortion providers to show mothers considering an abortion an ultrasound video of the procedure before they are allowed to perform the abortion.

A video would ensure that women have full knowledge of the procedure they are about to undergo. By providing women with more information on which to base a decision, the use of technology would enhance their “right to choose.”

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Currently, many women who consider abortion are not fully aware of what it actually entails. Sometimes they are even under the impression that abortion merely destroys a growth of tissue – like removing a wart. How much choice does a woman have if she is not aware of all the facts? 

Upon seeing what happens during an abortion, many women might choose to have their baby rather than go through with the abortion. Like Ms. Johnson, they would see with their own eyes that abortion destroys human life, not merely a growth of tissue. “I could see the baby move away from the probe,” said Johnson. If an ultrasound of an abortion procedure had such a profound effect on a Planned Parenthood director, imagine the influence it would have on women who feel abortion might be the best way to deal with their unwanted pregnancy. 

Some might object to a law that could produce such a strong influence, but abortion providers and organizations like Planned Parenthood, who profit from performing abortions, exert their own influence right now in the opposite direction. In other words, the abortion decision in its current state is not a pure one – it is tainted with various motives. Is it not better to influence women to refrain from having an abortion than to persuade them to have one? 

Indeed, a lower abortion rate resulting from the free and voluntary choices of well-informed women should be welcome news to everybody. 

After all, even the most ardent pro-choice advocates, including President Obama, insist that nobody is for abortion and that everyone wants to reduce the number of abortions. Naomi Wolf, a feminist author and supporter of abortion rights, described abortion in a 1995 essay as a “necessary evil.” As a guest on Fox News’s “Hannity” last fall, Steve Murphy, a Democratic strategist, said he and other pro-choice advocates are morally opposed to abortion, but they feel it is important to ensure it remains a woman’s choice. In fact, every pro-choice advocate I have ever come across has stressed that they are pro-choice, not pro-abortion. 

If pro-choice advocates are sincere with their words, wouldn’t they be happy to see fewer women choosing to have abortions as a result of technology’s ability to help ensure a fully-informed conscience? Since pro-choice advocates want to reduce the number of abortions as long as a woman’s right to choose remains intact, they should support a law that required women to watch a video of an abortion. In fact, proponents of choice would have the best of both worlds: more information for women on which to make a personal choice and fewer abortions. 

On the other hand, this proposal would not completely meet the objectives of the pro-life side, because abortion would still be legal. But pro-life advocates would be pleased that women are in a better position to make a decision that will affect the rest of their lives and their babies’ lives. They would also be happy about the dramatic drop in the number of abortions that would probably occur as a result of women having more information about abortion and its long-term consequences. 

If such a law passed, pro-life groups and pro-choice groups – both of whom are interested in reducing abortion – would need to step up their efforts to support women who choose to keep their baby in the midst of difficult circumstances. The two groups should ensure the availability of adoption services, financial assistance, counseling, and other services to these women.

Currently, several states have laws that require abortion providers to offer women the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of their baby before getting an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And two years ago, Republicans introduced a bill in Congress that would require abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and allow a woman to see the image before getting the procedure. Although the bill hasn’t gotten very far, it is a step in the right direction to finding a solution to the abortion issue. 

A requirement to watch an ultrasound video of an abortion itself would do the most good. The use of ultrasound technology on a national basis would ensure that women, not abortion peddlers, are making decisions about abortion. Like Abby Johnson, many of these women might say no to abortion after viewing the procedure – an outcome that would presumably please both pro-choice and pro-life advocates. So let us use technology’s ability to shape hearts and minds to reduce the number of abortions and bring healing to America’s most divisive issue. 

Zach Krajacic is a writer in Buffalo, N.Y.

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