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Alabama Lawmaker Backs Off Transvaginal Ultrasound Provision

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Newscom

State Sen. Clay Scofield (R) submitted a bill last week that would have required a woman to undergo an ultrasound before she could get an abortion. The bill would have mandated that the doctor decide whether to perform a transabdominal or transvaginal ultrasound, "whichever would display the embryo or fetus more clearly."

"We're not requiring it unless the woman wants to get an abortion. If she doesn't want to get an abortion, she doesn't have to do it," Scofield said last week.

Typically, in the early stages of pregnancy when a woman is more likely to get an abortion, the fetus is too small for a transabdominal ultrasound to provide a clear picture.

Which is why in Alabama, as in Virginia last week, Democratic lawmakers decried the bill as akin to state-sponsored rape. "It's an invasive procedure," said Sen. Linda Coleman (D), The Birmingham News reports. "To me, it is another form of rape, without a woman's consent."

The bill passed out of Alabama's Senate Health Committee by a 4-1 vote last Wednesday, but on Monday Scofield indicated that he is having second thoughts. Scofield said that he's planning to amend the bill so that the woman can choose which type of ultrasound she prefers -- though she would still be required to receive an ultrasound before getting an abortion.

''I am committed to amending this (bill) to specify that it is the woman's choice which method of ultrasound that she would be more comfortable with,'' Scofieled said.

Virginia ultimately stripped out a similar provision from its ultrasound bill after much public opposition. A vote on the bill, which passed the House, has been postponed several times in the state Senate.