Eleven States Enter New Abortion Debate

| Tue Feb. 10, 2009 4:24 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Mon Feb. 9, 2009 4:34 PM EST

President Obama thinks that "legislation to expand access to contraception [and] health information...[will] help reduce unintended pregnancies." But this month pro-life legislators have taken a more underhanded approach.

Eleven states are currently considering bills that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. Sixteen states already have laws that require doctors to offer women the option to have an ultrasound. Oklahoma's proposed law goes even farther, and would force women to view ultrasounds and require doctors to verbally describe the images. Many legislators say the efforts are not political, but rather about providing "information to a mother who is in a desperate situation," says Senator Tony Fulton (R-NE), "information about what she's about to choose; information about the reality inside her womb..."

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Missouri's proposed bill would not only require ultrasounds, but also make it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion; for example, by mental or physical abuse or job discrimination. South Carolina already has a pre-abortion ultrasound law, but a newly proposed law would make women wait twenty-four hours, after seeing the ultrasound, to deliberate before having an abortion.

In Wyoming, last week the state's House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee shot down a proposed ultrasound bill in a 6-3 vote. But the debate is far from over; it remains to be seen whether Obama's federal policies have any effect on this year's group of ultrasound propositions.