The state bill requiring women receive an ultrasound of the fetus before an abortion is about the government intimidating women into not having the procedure here.
If it seems like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have. Last year, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that contained the same provision, but it was ruled unconstitutional because it violated a rule that requires bills contain only one subject.
Now, legislators are going back and passing the same legislation separately.
The bill requiring the ultrasound, HB 2780, sponsored by state Rep. Lisa Billy, a Purcell Republican, was recently passed overwhelmingly by the House. It requires physicians or certified technicians to perform an ultrasound at least one hour before the abortion, ensuring the women can see the images. It also requires the medical staff to “provide a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting.” Under the bill, physicians or technicians must
Provide a medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, if present and viewable, and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable . . .
Essentially, the bill, which apparently drew no debate before it was passed Tuesday on an 87-7 vote, requires a procedure that is not medically needed. It’s intent is to stop women from having abortions in Oklahoma. It creates one more roadblock for women seeking safe abortions, and it targets impoverished women, who might not have the money to travel out of the state to get the procedure.
As I’ve written before, the right-wing political discourse here is often centered on women’s bodies. Social conservatives want to control women’s reproductive matters. It’s a matter of religious duty and obligation for them.
Another bill under consideration this session would require women seeking an abortion to fill out an extensive questionnaire that asks personal questions about their lives. This information-supposedly anonymous, at least for now-would then be placed on a public website.
Oklahoma women, whether for or against abortion, should be concerned about this legislation and what it might portend for them in the future.
Here are some questions:
Once abortion is essentially illegal or impossible in Oklahoma, what’s next? Will legislators try to limit access to birth control and regulate all aspects of family planning? Does anyone really think there’s a stopping point for social conservatives when it comes to women’s bodies?