This week, Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) filed SB632, Tennessee’s first mandatory ultrasound bill. Days later, Rep. Rick Womick (R-Murfreesboro) filed its house companion bill, HB984. This legislation does nothing to support or protect the health of women in Tennessee. It is being pushed by opponents of safe and legal abortion as another way to block access to reproductive health care in Tennessee.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Send an email to both your state Senator and your state Representative and urge them to vote NO on SB632/HB984.
Planned Parenthood opposes this bill and all others that judge, demean, and coerce women seeking reproductive health care and violate their privacy.
Require a woman to have a "trans-abdominal" ultrasound prior to having an abortion;
Mandate the ultrasound must occur between 72 and 24 hours prior to an abortion;
Force a woman who declines to view the ultrasound to listen to a clinician describe the image in detail, including "the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, the presence of arms and legs, if any, external members, internal organs, and provide a copy of the ultrasound image"; and
Force a woman to listen to the heartbeat.
Here is what SB632/HB984 really does:
Creates a minimum of a 24-hour waiting period and up to a 72-hour waiting period;
Results in onerous and burdensome expenses and inconveniences (days off work, child care, travel, etc.) for a woman forced to make two separate visits on two separpate days to the clinic, physician's office, or hospital;
Ignores the fact that ultrasounds are already routinely utilized in early pregnancy prior to an abortion to confirm the pregnancy and to determine the stage of pregnancy; and
Disregards the reality that trans-abdominal ultrasounds provide little information for early pregnancies (when the majority of abortions are performed).
Make no mistake; this legislation is a broad overreach and a gross intrusion by the state government into the private medical decisions of women. Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) says “Tennessee’s women should not have to suffer more intrusive laws that violate their right to privacy . . . Republicans have spent the past three years complaining about how the government shouldn’t stand between a patient and their doctor, but with this legislation, that is exactly what they are trying to do.”*
Planned Parenthood is opposed to politicians telling doctors how to practice medicine—it’s not the place of politicians to dictate what medical standards should be. This bill ignores the very personal and complicated decisions that a woman and her doctor face and adds unnecessary obstacles, including at least a 24-hour waiting period before she can receive care.
Planned Parenthood is in favor of women receiving all of the information they need to make private health care decisions. For decades, we’ve been the place for women to turn to for accurate information about all pregnancy options.
Planned Parenthood expects lawmakers to stand on the side of women and their health care providers who are faced with personal, private and, at times, very complicated medical decisions every day and reject this bill. Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) says, “As a woman and a teacher, I wish my fellow legislators would focus less time on trying to play doctor, and more time on helping women gain access to quality health care, a good education, and higher-paying jobs.”*
*(TNDP. “Democrats Denounce Sen. Tracy’s Bill Intending to Shame Women, Violate Privacy.” Tennessee Democratic Party. 7 February 2013.)