Friday, January 22, 2010

When pro-choicers oppose choice

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand and ushered in the era of "choice." Since then, Roe's allies assert that abortion should be a last resort. Unfortunately, they have done little to make that happen. Pro-choicers have done even less to further assist women in crisis pregnancies with all the information they need to truly make an informed decision.

Enter SB 38—The Ultrasound Bill, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 14. This bill requires abortionists to offer a woman the opportunity to see the ultrasound picture of her unborn child and to provide an explanation of the results. It does not force the woman to look at the screen; nor does it force her to hear the abortionist's interpretation. It simply mandates that the abortionist turn the screen (they already do ultrasounds to determine how much to charge) and ask the woman if she would like to see what he already sees. As it is, they keep that picture from the women, and unfortunately, women are kept in the dark.

Where I come from, people would consider SB 38 a choice. But in the Twilight Zone that is called the General Assembly, House Leadership has effectively denied a choice for the same women they purport to be preserving choices for. That they can do it with a straight face is disturbing.

One would think such a bill would unite the "let's keep it safe, legal and rare" crowd with the "one in every three babies dies from choice" crowd. Yet one would be wrong. For the past two years, the Kentucky House has killed ultrasound legislation by assigning the bill to committees where its fate was doomed on arrival. But also killed was a choice for women to have at their disposal medical information that could better help them in one of the most critical decisions in their life.

Interestingly, pro-choice organizations across the nation have labeled ultrasound legislation as "anti-choice" and a threat to "reproductive freedom." And in their Orwellian world, death is life and information is disinformation. So the bill hangs in the balance. Or maybe not.

The political winds are shifting, not just nationally, but also in Kentucky. In last month's special elections, the candidates who favored ultrasound legislation each handily won seats in the Senate and House. House Leadership seems to have gotten the memo and early political maneuvering indicates the bill may have a chance this year. This is good. According to, 16 other states have similar ultrasound laws on the books. Kentucky could be next.

The emergence of the ultrasound bill has shattered the figurative bunkers between embattled pro-choicers and pro-lifers. Default arguments no longer apply here. If the issue is really about choice, SB 38 should receive hearty support from both sides. If it’s about something else, then a certain political agenda has been exposed. And it’s the pro-choice crowd that might want to contemplate another moniker for their movement.

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