February 29, 2012 — Alabama Sen. Clay Scofield (R) on Sunday announced he would rewrite a bill (SB 12) so that women seeking abortion care could choose between a mandatory vaginal or abdominal ultrasound, the Montgomery Advertiser reports (Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser, 2/27).
A 2002 Alabama law already requires ultrasounds before abortion care in the state. The original version of Scofield's bill, approved last week by the Senate Health Committee, would require a doctor or an ultrasound technician to use whichever ultrasound method "would display the embryo or fetus more clearly."
Under the legislation, a doctor or ultrasound technician would have to position the ultrasound screen so the woman could see it and provide a "verbal explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting," as well as a "medical description" of the image, including the size of the embryo or fetus and presence of any limbs or internal organs. Women would not have to have an ultrasound if there was a medical emergency. Scofield said he also would amend the measure to make clear that it would not apply in cases of ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages (White, Birmingham News, 2/28).
The bill would impose penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine for health care providers who failed to administer an ultrasound. In addition, the woman, the father of the fetus or the grandparents could file a lawsuit against the physician for "actual and punitive damages" (Montgomery Advertiser, 2/27).
Scofield said the original version prompted a "media frenzy." Several Democratic lawmakers had pledged to fight the bill (Birmingham News, 2/28). Rep. Patricia Todd (D) said on Monday that the proposed amendments would not change her opposition to the bill (Montgomery Advertiser, 2/28).
Idaho Senate Considers Ultrasound Bill
In Idaho, state Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder (R) said he has removed a reference to vaginal ultrasounds from an antiabortion-rights bill because "it was confusing," the Spokane Spokesman-Review reports. The bill, which would require women seeking abortion care to first undergo an ultrasound, states, "The physician who is to perform the abortion or a qualified technician shall perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant patient, using whichever method the physician and patient agree is best under the circumstances."
The bill will be scheduled for a hearing before the Senate State Affairs Committee (Russell, Spokesman Review, 2/27).