The broken logic of Michigan’s latest ultrasound-mandating bill

TW: restrictions on bodily autonomy, miscarriages

Not only are many Republicans seemingly fixated on getting some Republican (any Republican) into one of Massachusetts’ senatorial seats, but on regulating abortion in increasingly invasive and nonsensical ways. The newest state-level bill which has gotten national attention was based in Michigan, and followed on the heels of the state legislature essentially erecting legal barriers for people who experience a miscarriage and intensively regulating the provision of abortions or related medical services. Now a well-tested and overwhelmingly publicly opposed idea of how to regulate abortions has graced Michigan with its presence. Yes, Michigan Republicans are mandating fetal ultrasounds, contrary to what some of their more prominent legislators have said.

TV news coverage of anti-mandatory-ultrasound protests in Idaho last year
(Because that went over so well last time? From here.)

If you actually bother to read the bill, at least in the version that’s been publicly posted, the entire argument is laughable. Here’s the most relevant section in my mind (beginning on page 3):

The safeguards that will best protect a woman seeking advice concerning abortion include the following:
[…]
the performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus at least 2 hours before an abortion with the woman given the option to view the active ultrasound image of the fetus, hear the fetal heartbeat, receive a physical picture of the ultrasound image of the fetus, and hear an explanation of the ultrasound image of the fetus. The performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus, now a standard practice at abortion facilities, protects the health of the woman seeking an abortion by verifying an intrauterine pregnancy, as undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies can result in potentially fatal complications and infertility. The performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus further protects the interest of the woman seeking an abortion by assessing the viability of the fetus and confirming the approximate gestational age of the fetus, as this information is necessary in order to determine appropriate medical care for the woman seeking an abortion.
[… Therefore]
a physician or a qualified  person assisting the physician shall do all of the following not  less than 24 hours before that physician performs an abortion upon a patient who is a pregnant woman:
[…]
Provide the patient with a physical copy of a medically accurate depiction, illustration, or photograph and description of a fetus supplied by the department of community health pursuant to subsection (11)(a) at the gestational age nearest the probable gestational age of the patient’s fetus. [… and while performing the mandatory ultrasound] The physician or qualified person assisting the physician shall ensure that the ultrasound screen is turned toward the patient to enable her to easily view the active ultrasound image of the fetus; shall inform the patient that the active ultrasound image of the fetus is visible and she may view the image on the ultrasound screen if she desires; shall provide the patient with the opportunity to hear or decline to hear the fetal heartbeat as confirmation of a viable pregnancy [which is medically inaccurate]; shall offer to provide the patient with a physical picture of the ultrasound image of the fetus; and shall offer to provide the patient with an oral explanation of the ultrasound image of the fetus.

Did you catch that? Pregnant people are required to have ultrasounds performed, even if they’re so early in the pregnancy that it’s pointless and near impossible to properly do (requiring a transvaginal ultrasound, which the bill says is an acceptable outcome). They’re actually required to answer whole string of questions asking them if they want information on the fetus in one of a whole series of formats. The purported purpose of this, however, is to inform the medical practitioner who would perform the abortion of any unrealized medical complications or conditions of the pregnancy.

Yes, Michigan just passed a bill requiring doctors to barrage their patients with information on the pregnancy they’re seeking to terminate, so that the doctors would be informed of the details of the pregnancy. It’s like they’re not even trying to come up with a logical fig leaf for controlling other people’s bodily choices.

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