Friday, January 10, 2014

New ultrasound study shows small percentage of women change mind about abortion

Slate has a piece on a new study which found “voluntarily viewing the ultrasound image may contribute to a small proportion of women with medium or low decision certainty deciding to continue the pregnancy.”  Pro-choice groups will likely use the study to attack ultrasound legislation as only a small percentage of women who viewed the ultrasound changed their mind but the study also disputes the idea that having/viewing an ultrasound is some burden-laden experience.  Caveats about how the abortion clinic staff showed/explained the ultrasound apply. 

Katy Waldman writes,
Yet viewing the ultrasound images did influence some of the wavering women to stick with their pregnancies. Even though the number is very small, this is important to acknowledge. It means not only that forcing or pressuring women to look at their fetus will probably prevent a sliver of abortions—which is relevant for those who oppose and want to reduce abortions—but also that some women do respond to these pictures. I don’t buy the patronizing notion that patients seeking abortion “know not what they do”—that they have some false idea about the contents of their uteruses to be toppled by an “adorable,” “precious” or “lifelike” sonogram. I also doubt all women even have the maternal instinct right-wingers hope these images will fan to life. But I do trust that unsure women who voluntarily look at ultrasounds and then decide against abortion are acting as rationally as the ones who decide to go through with it. We all make choices along a variety of axes: the financial axis; the relationship-status axis; the personal goals and dreams axis; the ethical axis; and, yes, the emotional axis. Expecting women to ignore any one scrap of data (as if they are not capable of weighing it, carefully, alongside the others) is underestimating women.

At Time, reporter Eliana Dockterman is apparently unaware the women in the study who didn’t look at the ultrasound still received one and thinks the study re-enforces the idea that “putting these women through the process of an ultrasound is an undue physical and emotional burden.”
This study lends more credence to the idea that women who are certain that an abortion is the right choice for them are not going to change their mind, and putting these women through the process of an ultrasound is an undue physical and emotional burden as The Supreme Court has indicated in its rulings so far.
Huh?  If they're not going to change their mind then why is it a undue emotional burden?  It's not a physical burden because they already receive the ultrasound because as the first line(!) of the study's abstract notes ultrasounds as a "routine part of preprocedure abortion care." 

Also, as far as I know the Supreme Court of the United States hasn't provided a ruling (much less "rulings") on ultrasound/abortion legislation.  They declined to review a ruling which struck down Oklahoma's ultrasound law but that's hardly a ruling as they decline to review most cases. 

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