Forcing a patient to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure is unethical and demeaning, but that’s exactly what mandatory ultrasound laws do to patients seeking abortion care.
For most patients seeking abortion care, an ultrasound is not medically necessary. Still, several states across the country require physicians to perform an ultrasound before performing an abortion. Some of those states also force a patient to view the ultrasound or listen to the heartbeat, even if they directly object.
It is worth noting that, for safety reasons, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ultrasounds be performed only for medical purposes by a qualified health-care provider.1
Mandatory ultrasound laws have no medical justification and are designed by anti-choice politicians solely to intimidate, shame and harass patients who seek abortion.
In Virginia, prior to July 1, 2020 when the Reproductive Health Protection Act became law, patients were required to obtain an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to having their procedure (Va Code Ann. § 18.2-76.). With the enactment of RHPA, the decision about whether and when to perform an ultrasoundis left up to the patient and provider, as it is in the case of every other medical procedure. With RHPA, Virginia is one step closer to getting politics out of the exam room and returning the power to patients and providers to make decisions about medical care.
1 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG President Advises Against Unnecessary Obstacles for Women Needing Ultrasound