Letter of Testimony: Opportunity to see ultrasound before an abortion procedure

Testimony of Mr. Jason Adkins, Executive Director

Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee

SF 1168 (Benson)

February 21, 2018

The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, supports S.F. 1168, which helps clarify that women do have the opportunity to see an ultrasound before an abortion procedure.

This bill seeks only to add a measure of informed consent.  The ultrasounds are already being performed as part of the abortion process because competent medical practice includes the use of ultrasound before an abortion. This legislation adds on one simple question to an abortion provider’s protocol: Would you like to see the ultrasound image?

Why should a woman not be offered the opportunity to see the ultrasound? If anything, this bill has the potential to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship by ensuring nothing is hidden and the woman has access to all the information she wants.  There is no increased cost incurred by the patient or provider.

Ultrasounds are used to assist doctors and protect the health and welfare of patients.  For example, ultrasounds can rule out an ectopic pregnancy, allow the medical professional to examine the child and his or her location, and help to more accurately calculate gestational age.

S.F. 1168 does not mandate any type of ultrasound. The requirement is that an offer to view an ultrasound (no type specified) is made prior to an abortion. At all times, any ultrasound or viewing of an ultrasound may be declined. The type of ultrasound will be decided by the doctor and the patient.

Importantly, the legislation allows a woman considering an abortion the option to see her unborn child and the heartbeat. This legislation promotes the woman’s physical and psychological health and advances the state’s important and legitimate interest in ensuring informed consent. This is a concrete, effective step that Minnesota can take to protect maternal health.

Thank you for your consideration.

*This testimony is adapted from resources supplied by the Catholic Conference of Illinois.