April 9, 2012 — A Pennsylvania bill (HB 1077) that would require a woman seeking abortion care to first undergo an ultrasound has been pulled from the Legislature's voting calendar, the Centre Daily News reports. In March, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) postponed indefinitely a House vote to address concerns by Pennsylvania physicians (VanderKolk, Centre Daily News, 4/6).
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. Specifically, the bill states that if the embryo is too small to be viewed, the physician would have to measure the "gestational sac" (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/1).
The Pennsylvania Medical Society said the bill "would significantly jeopardize the open dialogue within the physician-patient relationship." Peg Spear, a physician for Penn State's University Health Services, added that the measure interferes with a woman's right "to decide what to do when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, a right which women in this country do still have."
Michael Berkman, a political science professor at Penn State, said the bill reflects a growing trend in the battle over abortion rights. He said that abortion-rights opponents continue to push legislation that is aimed at making the procedure "more difficult; ever more unpleasant, ever more stigmatized" (Centre Daily News, 4/6).