Research: Forced ultrasound doesn’t change women’s decision on abortion

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, March 7, 2013 19:54 EDT
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Requiring women to receive an ultrasound and wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion does not change their decision. However, it does impose a significant burden on many women.

That is according to a three-year study conducted by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, a group comprised of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, Ibis Reproductive Health, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The researchers sought to examine the impact of abortion restrictions passed by the Texas legislature in 2011. The law requires doctors to ask women to view the ultrasound images and listen to the heartbeat of the fetus. Women can choose not to view the image or listen of the heartbeat, but are still required to undergo the procedure 24-hours before receiving an abortion.

Proponents of the law said requiring women to receive an ultrasound would help them decide whether they really wanted to terminate their pregnancy. But the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that 89 percent of women were “confident” or “extremely confident” in their decision both before and after the invasive procedure.

The law was also a burden on many women, according to researchers. Nearly one-third felt the waiting period harmed their emotional well-being and nearly one-fourth reported facing hardships in returning to the clinic. Women had to travel 42 miles on average to get to a clinic, while a few women had to travel nearly 400 miles. Only 18 percent of women said the mandatory waiting period had a positive emotional impact.

In a statement, Texas state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D) said the study was proof the law needed to be repealed.

The study demonstrated “that the mandatory waiting period the Texas Legislature imposed last session has had a negative effect on women’s emotional well-being, imposed a physical hardship for these women, and is cost-prohibitive,” she explained. “On average, women reported spending $146 in unnecessary costs caused by the waiting period and the two trip requirement it creates, including the costs of travel, lodging accommodations, child care services, and unpaid time off of work.”

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[Doctor Working With Ultrasonic Medical Device on Shutterstock]

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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