State Senate debates requiring women to have an ultrasound before abortion

CREATED Jun. 10, 2013 - UPDATED: Jun. 10, 2013

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MADISON - A highly sensitive and divisive issue is up for debate Tuesday in Madison: Should doctors have to show their patients an ultrasound of the fetus and its features before performing an abortion?

An ultrasound is a routine procedure for pregnant woman. Planned Parenthood does one before every abortion, but it doesn't require women to know the results.

Republican lawmakers want to change that.

"They are not physicians and they need to let the physicians practice medicine and they can practice politics," said Teri Huyck, president of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. "They don't need to be playing politics with women's bodies."

The bill doesn't require woman to see the ultrasound, but abortion providers would have to display the image of the fetus, describe the size and identify any internal organs or external features.

Wisconsin Right to Life believes woman will be more informed.

"We've met far too many women who do not understand what they were carrying at the time they had the abortion, said Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life. "Many woman are told its just a clump of tissue or blob of tissue."

The bill is named after a Milwaukee woman who said she had planned to have an abortion, until her ultrasound.

"In Sonya's case, she saw her baby's heart beating and it totally changed her mind about her child," said Lyons.

The bill also requires abortion providers to have hospital admission rights within 30 miles of an abortion facility.

Planned Parenthood says that would force its Appleton facility to close.

"This is an unnecessary intrusion on women's health and its politically motivated," said Huyck.

Planned Parenthood plans a rally in Madison on Tuesday as the State Senate takes up the bill.

Pro-life supporters will also be closely monitoring the floor debate as well.