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Feb 20 2012

The Medical Facts Behind Pre-Abortion Ultrasound

Who knew that the Virginia legislature was packed full of doctors, specifically OB-GYNs? Oh, wait. They’re not. So what the hell is up with them legislating medical care? Is it somehow okay because they’re onlly legislating it for women? (No need to actually answer that.)

Dr. Jen Gunter, on the other hand, is an OB-GYN qualified in two countries. So maybe we should listen to her when she talks about the medical science behind pre-abortion ultrasounds. I know I learned something.

Second-trimester abortion

Let’s just take that off the table. Every second trimester abortion needs an ultrasound and often gets more than one. Second-trimester abortions are more often done for birth defects, typically diagnosed or confirmed by ultrasound (sometimes a few ultrasounds are done). In addition, these procedures require more skill the further along, so it is essential the practitioner knows the gestational age with as much accuracy as possible. Ultrasound laws will not change any procedure costs for 2nd trimester ultrasounds, but they may affect the viewing requirements (whether the woman sees/hears a description of the ultrasound). I’ll get to that in just a bit.

First-trimester abortion

Many providers already do a 1rst trimester ultrasound, especially with medical abortion. This is because a medical abortion can only be done up to 63 days (9 weeks). However, there is a growing body of literature suggesting medical abortion can safety be accomplished without an ultrasound for 98% of women. So these laws will prevent practitioners from doing away with an ultrasound (i.e. prevent them from practicing evidence based medicine) which will halt efforts to expand medical abortion into low resource settings. Ultrasound requirements will also affect many women getting a surgical procedure as and ultrasound is typically not required if the size of the uterus agrees with the dating of the pregnancy (although some providers do ultrasounds anyway, generally for medico-legal reasons).

Go read the whole thing. Send a copy to your state and national representatives as well. If they insist on passing laws on this stuff, don’t let them deny that they’ve seen the scientific information.

Bonus: While you’re at Jen’s blog, check out her proposal for National No Non-Procreative Sex Day.

2 comments

  1. 1
    Pteryxx

    It also occurred to me that crisis pregnancy centers (which generally exist to deceive and harass patients seeking abortions) have been buying ultrasound equipment here in Texas to provide cheap/free ultrasounds. I think mandatory ultrasound laws are at least partially intended to funnel patients into CPCs.

  2. 2
    Makoto

    If this kind of thing wasn’t.. you know, reality.. I’d think it was some kind of sick joke.

    “Government mandated health care issues are bad!”
    “Except when we mandate that a woman has to be humiliated and raped in order to get a legal health procedure…”

    “You can’t tell employers what to provide for health care options, that goes against their religion!”
    “What about the religions of their employees?”

    I can’t laugh, so mostly I’m donating to PP and other clinics and writing to the President, because I got quite the harsh response when I tried to contact my congressfolks (I’m in northern Texas, I’m sure that explains everything about that last remark)

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