On July 5, 2013, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. The bill, called Sonya’s Law, requires an ultrasound be performed at least 24 hours before an abortion. Sonya’s Law also banned doctors who lacked admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics from performing abortions.
In a statement confirming he signed the bill into law, Walker said the measure “improves a woman’s ability to make an informed choice that will protect her physical and mental health now and in the future.”
Supporters of the bill argue that more women would decide to carry a fetus to term if an ultrasound showed them their unborn child.
Rachel Campos-Duffy, wife of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Hayward), in a video interview with the Appleton Post-Crescent in June 2013 said that once a couple sees the ultrasound, “upwards of 90 percent of them” decide not to have an abortion.
Supporters of the bill, including Campos-Duffy, seemed confident that forcing a woman to get an ultrasound would make her change her mind. I feel that this is a sort of slap in the face. Women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions performed and had the highest rate of abortion in 2010, according to the CDC.
These are women my age. If I had already decided that now was not an ideal time for me to have a child, I would not want to be forced by law to have an ultrasound. Not only would that make me feel as though my decision was unimportant, it would also make me feel that the government thought they knew what was right for me, more than I knew what was right for myself.
The bill even contradicts studies showing the opposite of what those like Campos-Duffy are claiming. A study published this month in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology proved that despite required ultrasounds before abortion procedures, most women who were certain that they wanted to get an abortion went through with the procedure.
The new study in Obstetrics & Gynecology is one of the largest to date. Researchers analyzed 15,575 medical records from an urban abortion care provider in Los Angeles. Each woman was placed in high, medium, or low decision certainty categories based on answers to questions regarding their choice for an abortion. Only 7.4 percent of women fell into the medium or low decision category.
In Wisconsin, results of the ultrasound must be offered to the woman, but she can decline the results. The women in the study were given the same option, with 42.5 percent of the women opting to see images. Of those who saw the pictures, 98.4 percent went on to terminate the pregnancies. Overall, 98.8 percent of the pregnancies were terminated.
After viewing the sonogram, 1.6 percent of women decided to carry their pregnancies to term. All of these women were medium or low certainty about the procedure when asked before the ultrasound.
This study contradicted Campos-Duffy’s claim that “upwards of 90 percent” of women seeking an abortion decide not to have an abortion after seeing an ultrasound.
The Obstetrics & Gynecology study concluded that women voluntarily viewing ultrasounds of their pregnancies doesn’t change their minds in the vast majority of cases when they’ve already decided abortion was the right decision. If she has made up her mind, why question her?