Monday, February 4, 2013

State Sen. Jim Tracy Files an Ultrasound Before Abortion Bill

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 9:29 AM

When you read SB0632, it becomes obvious that the bill is premised on the idea that if you're having an abortion, it must be because you don't know you're pregnant with an actual human life. Perhaps the sponsor, State Sen. Jim Tracy, assumes you're dumb as rocks. since the bill reads that a "qualified trained medical professional" must:

(A) Verbally offer the woman undergoing the fetal transabdominal ultrasound an opportunity to view the ultrasound image and receive a printed copy of the ultrasound image; or
(B) In cases where the woman declines the offer to view the ultrasound image pursuant to subdivision (b)(3)(A), provide, in a manner understandable to a layperson, a simultaneous verbal explanation of the results of the live, real-time ultrasound images, including a medical description of the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs, external members and internal organs, and provide a copy of the ultrasound image to the woman; and
(4) Make audible the live, real-time heart auscultation, when present, for the pregnant woman to hear, in a quality consistent with current medical practice, and provide, in a manner understandable to a layperson, a simultaneous verbal explanation of the live, real-time heart auscultation.

One wonders why Tracy thinks women go to have abortions if we don't know we're pregnant. But this is clearly just designed to be an egregious pain in the ass of women who want to have an abortion. Tracy and the state just want to make sure we know how stupid they think we are, and how little they think of us. They also want skirt the disastrously unpopular transvaginal ultrasound legislation that caused so many headaches for Republicans when many states tried to pass it last year.

But here's the problem, and it's why anti-abortion people pressed for the appalling transvaginal ultrasound bills in the first place: We Americans are a fat people. So what happens under this bill when a fat woman comes in for an early abortion, gets a transabdominal ultrasound, and there's nothing clear on the ultrasound? Can the doctor say, "I can't see anything?" or, "It's very hard to make out what's going on in your uterus?" Does that meet the requirements of the bill?

And why in the world would you have to wait more than 24 hours between having an ultrasound and having an abortion? Other than just requiring one more hoop for women to jump through, I mean. It's not like women are so delicate that, after having an ultrasound, we have to go home and rest.

The thing is that it's not a mystery why women have abortions. The Guttmacher Institute regularly does research into this very matter and here's some of what they found:

About 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

Forty-two percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children).

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

This is setting aside instances of rape, life-of-mother, and pressure from Scott DesJarlais (evidently a small but not insignificant cause of abortion here in Tennessee). Women don't have abortions because they don't know that pregnancy leads to babies, and thus need legislation that lectures to them in such fashion. Most women who have abortions are already mothers.

If Sen. Tracy were sincerely interested in lowering the abortion rate here in Tennessee, there are quite a number of things he could do beyond mandating guilt trips for women. Since three-fourths of women have abortions because they can't afford another child, Tracy could oppose bills — such as Campfield's "Starve-the-Children" bill — that make being a poor mother more perilous than it already is.

Tracy could work to lower the number of rapes in the state, something that, if we look at the bills filed in the General Assembly thus far, isn't much on the minds of legislators. While legislators have done some impressive work to combat sex trafficking, the only bill dealing with regular old rape is from Lowe Finney, looking to increase the penalty for bringing a gun along to your sex crime. That bill has no co-sponsors in the Senate and no sponsor at all in the House. Might do some good for the bill if Tracy talked it up among his colleagues.

There's also strong anti-pre-K sentiment among state legislators. If Tracy wants to make it easier for women to have children and keep their jobs, having pre-K available is pretty important.

But I know this kind of work is less fun than just assuming that women are too dumb to function in the world without constant lectures. After all, Tracy doesn't have to face the women his bill hurts regularly. Actually working his anti-abortion concerns into legislation that would make a difference would mean standing up to colleagues he does have to see every day.

You can see why he takes the easy way out.

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