Senators urge educating abortion patients before procedure
MDN Menu
MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News

Senators urge educating abortion patients before procedure

Date: February 15, 2010
By: Martin Swant
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Amy Knudsen said she had an abortion when she was 14.

She testified at a Senate hearing, saying that if she would have seen an ultrasound of her baby twenty years ago she would have never gone through with the abortion.

"I would have seen a baby no dobut about it," Knudsen said. "I would have had a head, torso, arms, legs."

She testified on a bill that would require a woman be offered an ultrasound of her fetus at least 24 hours prior to an abortion.

"The most effective way to protect children and keep women from being wounded for life is to ensure that women facing unplanned pregnancies have received factual information concerning their decision," Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, said at the hearing conducted by the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday.

Opposition to the legislation disputed the effectiveness of the bill, saying an ultrasound would be ineffective.

"Women who come in the day of the procedure -- they've made up their mind," said Michelle Trupiano, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. She said most women choose not to view the ultrasound.

But many anti-abortion activists say a mother seeing her live fetus would be enough to persuade her to forego an abortion. Legislative staff said 11,580 abortions took place in Missouri in 2008.

"I just can't imagine a woman making a statement like that," Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis County, said of a woman going through with an abortion after viewing an ultrasound.

The bill would also require physicians to inform abortion patients of the potential implications of procedures. Opponents to the bill argued some of the physical implications have very small risk. "It's a little like taking a bazooka to a gnat," NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri executive director Pamela Sumners said.

Psychological trauma is "built on bad science," she said.

Another bill would expand the data provided to the state when an abortion is performed.

The legislation would require physicians to collect information from women on why they sought an abortion, such as medical, social or economic factors. Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, said it would allow lawmakers to "objectively" get information about abortions, with all data being voluntary, confidential and unidentifiable.

"Folks on both sides of the debate believe we need to reduce abortions," Dempsey said.

Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.