There’s a now famous spoof from The Onion News Network about a fake Arkansas law that would require women to pick a baby name and paint her nursery pink or blue before having an abortion. Well, Michigan is marching towards making that spoof a reality: a Republican state senator has proposed a bill that would require doctors performing an abortion to do an ultrasound, offer to describe the fetus’ current stage of development, offer an opportunity to listen to any detectable heartbeat, and offer a hard copy of the ultrasound image. (“Keepsake ultrasound” is the macabre, but fitting, moniker of the Michigan Messenger newspaper.)
A woman can refuse any of these intentionally heart-tugging actions, but she would still have to sign a statement acknowledging these offers had been made. Anti-abortion activists claim these kinds of laws would give women much-needed “information” about their choice, which backs up the worldview held by some of them that abortion providers are an “industry” or a “big business” hellbent on lying to women so they can abort fetuses willy-nilly and make as much money as possible.
The reality, though, is that these sorts of laws are intended to guilt trip women away from having abortions. As I wrote last month regarding a similar bill in Florida:
Bills requiring women to view ultrasounds before an abortion are intentionally trying to inflict trauma on women in already emotionally charged, oftentimes very sad circumstances. The additional expense of having to pay for an ultrasound also creates a prohibitive barrier for low-income women — who are the ones would would struggle the most affording prenatal care and the possible cost of raising a child anyway.
It’s nothing short of heartless to take an already emotionally-loaded situation for women and kick it up a notch. A keepsake ultrasound after your abortion? That’s just cruel.