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Ultrasound amendment spin (HB 1143)

Ultrasound required for abortions

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By Jesse Phillips

It’s like untangling a strand of Christmas lights you haven’t used in three years. Sorting through the spin about the “Ultrasound Option Prior to Abortion” is proving to be difficult.

The Florida legislature just passed an amendment to HB 1143, known as the Ultrasound Amendment. Some people say it mandates an ultra sound. Others say it’s optional. Some people are even saying the bill makes you prove that you were raped before having an abortion. It all begs the question, what does the bill actually do and say?

Read the full text of the amendment

To the best of my understanding, this is what the bill actually does:

1. It requires that a doctor inform the woman seeking an abortion of three things: first, the risks of killing her baby; second, the probable age of the baby verified by ultrasound; and third, the live images of the ultrasound must be explained to the woman during the ultrasound.

2. It allows the woman to decline the third provision above, choosing not to view the ultrasound images in the cases of rape, etc., or personal preference. It’s my understanding that the ultrasound is still required and the disclosure of the risks of abortion are still required, but the woman is simply not required to view the results of the ultrasound.

3. It requires that a woman be informed of sufficient alternatives to killing her unborn child, including adoption services and other assistance.

4. It has language outlining the consequences for doctors who fail to adhere to the provisions in the amendment.

So, the bottom line is that the bill requires a woman seeking abortion to pay for and undergo an ultrasound, although she can decline to view the results if she jumps through certain legal hoops and paperwork.

For those of you who are decrying this, here’s some perspective. My third son was born yesterday. We had to sign forms and he had to undergo a two-hour test just to approve the car seat we were going to take him home in. If a small decision of which car seat to use is subject to legal hoops and paperwork, certainly the decision of whether or not to terminate the life of that same baby a few weeks prior should have been subject to the same consideration and due diligence.

UPDATE (Friday, 3:41): I just received an email from representative Hudson, essentially confirming my interpretation of the language. It’s nice to know I can read. The bill will now to go Governor Arlen Crist, I mean, Charlie Specter, I mean…oh you know who I’m talking about.

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