Pre-abortion ultrasound "review"

Does a South Carolina bill intend for women to be forced to view their ultrasound image?

Published April 5, 2007 11:00PM (EDT)

South Carolina's debate over a bill proposing that a woman be required to "review" her ultrasound image before having an abortion has turned into a war over words. State Attorney General Henry McMaster has asked lawmakers to clarify the phrasing of the bill. He says that as written, the bill is, well, technically constitutional. But, he's unclear what the bill's authors actually meant when writing that a woman and her doctor must "review" her ultrasound image. If women were forced to view the image, it would be unconstitutional, he said.

Rep. Greg Delleney, sponsor of the House version of the bill, said, "I don't agree that an amendment is advisable. I think 'review' is not subjective. 'Review' is clear on its face." As South Carolina's the State does, let's take a moment for a vocabulary review. Merriam-Webster has this to say about the verb "review":

1 : to view or see again
2 : to examine or study again; especially : to reexamine judicially
3 : to look back on : take a retrospective view of (review the past)
4 a : to go over or examine critically or deliberately (reviewed the results of the study) b : to give a critical evaluation of (review a novel)
5 : to hold a review of (review troops)

The most generous interpretation of the bill's wording suggests that women would be required to talk over and critically evaluate the results of the ultrasound. (Which is still: Bleck.) More likely, of course, they would be required to view and discuss the ultrasound image before having an abortion. But doctors will likely have their own individual interpretations of the phrasing.

The beautifully sinister thing about the bill's wording is that, as McMaster put it: "It is defensible in court."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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