March 1, 2012 — Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) has postponed a vote on a bill (HB 1077) that would require a woman seeking abortion care to first undergo an ultrasound, his spokesperson said Wednesday evening, the Scranton Times-Tribune reports. The spokesperson cited concerns raised by the medical community and said there is no timeline for considering the bill (Swift, Scranton Times-Tribune, 3/1).
The House Health Committee recently voted 15-7 to approve the measure, and a floor vote had been scheduled for March 12.
The Pennsylvania Medical Association and the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the bill would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and mandate an unnecessary test (McCullough, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/29).
Although the bill does not state that a specific type of ultrasound must be used, it would require that the image be of sufficient quality to determine gestational age, which some say could mean that women would need to undergo a vaginal ultrasound (Scranton Times-Tribune, 3/1). Specifically, the bill states that if the embryo is too small to be viewed, the physician would have to measure the "gestational sac."
Since Friday, six of the bill's 103 co-sponsors have withdrawn their support over the requirement. One of those six, Rep. Thomas Killion (R), said, "I think the way this bill is written is problematic." He added, "We need to hold some hearings on the bill. It's nowhere near ready for prime time."
The bill also would require a physician to offer to show the woman the ultrasound images and explain the development process. Further, it would require the doctor to offer the woman a chance to hear the fetal heartbeat and provide the woman with a copy of the ultrasound image in a sealed envelope (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/29).