Reporting today on how Virginia Republican "Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is backing off his unconditional support for a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion," the Washington Post's Anita Kumar failed to note that Virginia abortion providers affiliated with Planned Parenthood already use ultrasounds as part of their preparatory work for abortion.
The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood didn’t immediately return calls yesterday. But here’s what it said on the recording for its abortion services information hotline:
“Patients who have a surgical abortion generally come in for two appointments. At the first visit we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit generally takes about an hour. At the second visit, the procedure takes place. This visit takes about an hour as well. For out of town patients for whom it would be difficult to make two trips to our office, we’re able to schedule both the initial appointment and the procedure on the same day.
Medical abortions generally require three visits. At the first visit, we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit takes about an hour. At the second visit, the physician gives the first pill and directions for taking two more pills at home. The third visit is required during which you will have an exam and another ultrasound.”
From a health perspective, these ultrasounds are critical. They detect the exact age of the fetus, which often dictates which type of abortion procedure the woman can receive. They can also spot potential complications that could impact the procedure, like ectopic pregnancies. In clinics that don’t have access to ultrasound technology, sometimes pelvic exams can be used as a substitute. But those are arguably just as invasive as the transvaginal ultrasounds pro-choice activists are decrying.
In other words, the real reason pro-choicers oppose the law isn’t because of the “invasiveness” or “creepiness” of ultrasounds. It can’t be it. Virginia Planned Parenthood clinics already include them in its abortion procedures.
Goodman actually did what good public policy journalists should do, investigate and report information critical to understanding public policy.
Unfortunately, Kumar failed to note these crucial facts in her 21-paragraph story, even as she furthered liberal complaints about "probes" (emphases mine):
In recent days, abortion supporters have emphasized that women in the earliest stages of pregnancy may require a probe instead of an external test.
About 1,200 men and women held a silent protest outside the state Capitol on Monday, wearing hand-decorated T-shirts that bore such messages as “Virginia is for lovers, not probes.’’
The ultrasound legislation would require women to undergo a test to determine the gestation age of the fetus, hear the heartbeat and be given an opportunity to see the images.
A woman who refuses to look at the ultrasound would have to sign a statement, which along with a print of the image would become part of her medical file.
The bill also would require women who live within 100 miles of their abortion provider to wait at least 24 hours before having the procedure, except in emergencies. Those who live farther would have to wait two hours.
Supporters of the ultrasound measure say it would provide crucial medical information to women seeking abortions; opponents say it would subject women to unnecessary tests and invade their privacy.