Ultrasound technology and laws credited for pro-life shift


Some doctors and pro-life leaders now say ultrasound technology is partly responsible for Americans’ gradual shift to identifying themselves as pro-life. Nebraskan legislators are now considering joining the many states which require that a woman considering an abortion be provided an ultrasound of her baby.

A recent Gallup poll showed 51 percent of Americans now self-identify as pro-life, composing a majority for the first time.

The change has led to speculation that improved ultrasound technology has helped change minds.

"Ultrasound used to be less available, very grainy. Now the baby is very clear, very distinct," Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life told Fox News.

Massachusetts Doctor Eric J. Keroack reported to Fox News that a two-year study showed 75 percent of his patients who were unsure about having an abortion decided not to after choosing to view the ultrasound images of their child.

Currently, six states require verbal counseling or written materials to include information on accessing ultrasound services. Twelve states regulate the provision of ultrasound by abortion providers.

Last week Nebraska lawmakers advanced a measure requiring abortion providers to display ultrasound images of unborn children so that patients can easily view them. On Thursday they voted 37-5 to send the measure to a second round of voting.

Nebraska state Sen. John Harm told Fox News the proposed law gives struggling women the option to view an ultrasound and “hopefully see a beating heart and the development of the child.”

"I've had correspondence with women who've gone through an abortion and who've said that if they had the option of seeing the ultrasound, they might not have made that decision," he said.

Defenders of abortion argued that the technology is being used to generate guilt among women who have abortions.

"The other side has made it pretty clear that this is a strategy to get women to change their minds," Gretchen Borchelt, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, told FOXNews.com.

She said her organization does not support requiring women to view ultrasound images.

Last year Oklahoma passed legislation requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on every woman seeking an abortion and to place the monitor in a position easy for the woman to view.

The legislation requires doctors to provide “a simultaneous description of what the ultrasound is depicting” and describe the dimensions of the unborn child, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of external members and internal organs if they are present and viewable.

The bill clearly states that there will be no legal penalty for either the physician or the woman if she refuses to look at the ultrasound images.

However, the bill is being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents abortion clinics.

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