Each piece of legislation was carefully crafted to look like a routine and reasonable medical procedure — never mentioning the violation to a women’s body, but simply couching the assault in what looks like an effort to merely ascertain if indeed there is a pregnancy to be terminated.
The latest attempt, HB-4241, would prohibit a healthcare provider from performing a legal abortion without first determining if there is a fetal heartbeat. But, prior to 8 weeks gestation, a heartbeat and image can only be obtained through a transvaginal ultrasound. After 8 to 10 weeks, an abdominal ultrasound is sufficient.
It gets worse — the heart does not start to beat until 6 weeks gestation, meaning an abortion could not be performed prior to a detectable heartbeat. Gestational age starts from the first day after the last menstrual period. Therefore, the earliest detectable heartbeat would occur at 22 to 23 days post-conception. Over-the-counter tests can accurately detect pregnancy weeks before this proposed law would permit an abortion.
While the bill specifies that compliance “does not require the use of an intravaginal diagnostic procedure”, in the very next breath the proposed law says that if the examination does not detect a fetal heartbeat, the healthcare provider must do the following: (Note that the language already acknowledges the pregnancy.)
Advise the pregnant woman of the physician’s recommendation either to immediately perform an additional diagnostic procedure or procedures that may detect a fetal heartbeat or to delay until a later date performing a diagnostic procedure to determine if the fetus is physically developing.
The previous two bills intending to force a woman to submit to this insult to her mind and body were similarly deceptively written.
There are certainly times when a patient and physician would opt to use the more invasive procedure at their own discretion, particularly when the viability of an intended pregnancy is in question. But, that decision should always remain with the patient, under the advice of her healthcare provider.
(This morning I had the pleasure of addressing a Northwestern Michigan College journalism class about Democracy Tree. One of the stories I cited covering over the years, was the legislature’s repeated attempts to sneak through a transvaginal probe bill. So, today’s legislation was, er…timely? Yet, an unpleasant coincidence.)