R.I. House Committee Holds Hearing on Ultrasound Bill

April 13, 2012 — The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday held a hearing on a bill (HB 7205) that would require a woman seeking an abortion to first receive an ultrasound, the AP/Boston Globe reports. Rhode Island is one of several states considering similar bills, and seven states already require ultrasounds before abortion care.

The bill would mandate that abortion providers describe the ultrasound image to the woman, although she would not be required to look at it. Abortion providers who violate the bill's provisions would face penalties of up to $100,000.

Susan Lloyd Yolen, vice president of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, told lawmakers that medical protocols should be determined by health care professionals, not mandated by the state. Medical students and physicians also testified against the measure. Nitin Damle, president of the Rhode Island Medical Society, said the requirement is medically unnecessary and would be an "intrusion" into the doctor-patient relationship.

Barth Bracy -- executive director of the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee -- conceded that the bill is not likely to pass this year. Rep. Karen Macbeth (D), the bill's sponsor, said she is "hopeful" the bill will receive a vote, even though her attempts to pass similar legislation have failed for the past three years.

The committee also considered eight other abortion-related bills on Wednesday, including measures that would prohibit sex-selective abortion and impose new penalties for the causing the death of a fetus during an assault on a pregnant woman (Klepper, AP/Boston Globe, 4/11).