Michigan GOP quashes transvaginal ultrasound bill

"I have absolutely no interest in forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound,” said the GOP House Speaker

Topics: Michigan, Republicans, transvaginal ultrasound, Abortion, Pro-choice,

Michigan’s Republican House Speaker shut down a bill that would have forced women seeking an abortion to first undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, saying he has “absolutely no interest” in mandating the procedure.

“While I want to be sure women have access to the best technology available, I have absolutely no interest in forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound,” House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) said in a statement Thursday. “This House of Representatives will not pass a bill mandating transvaginal ultrasounds.”

A spokesman for Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich., said that the governor also opposes the legislation. “Gov. Snyder is not at all supportive of this legislation and has zero interest in seeing it come to his desk,” Sara Wurfel told TPM.

Republican legislators in the state had proposed legislation that would have required the “performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus at least two hours before an abortion is performed.” The language of the bill mandated that the ultrasound “[assess] the viability of the fetus and [confirm] the approximate gestational age of the fetus” with equipment that would provide “the most visibly clear image of the gross anatomical development of the fetus and the most audible fetal heartbeat.”

Though the language was vague and did not specifically mandate a “transvaginal” ultrasound, due to the other requirements, pro-choice groups said that it would effectively require the procedure for a woman seeking an abortion. Since abortions typically happen in the first trimester, Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute told Salon, the only way “for women earlier in pregnancy to provide that kind of information is through a transvaginal ultrasound. A transabdominal ultrasound doesn’t show what I think they would define as the clearest image.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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