Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) declined to take a position last week during a town hall meeting on whether transvaginal ultrasounds should be mandatory for women seeking abortions, saying he has never heard of the practice and couldn’t weigh in on it because “I haven’t had one.”
Ultrasound requirements are a top priority for anti-abortion advocates in Wisconsin and other states. Similar legislation in past years has landed Republicans in political hot water, and this time around many GOP leaders are distancing themselves from proposed ultrasound requirements.
Duffy has described himself as “100 percent prolife without exceptions” (though he also said “To qualify, I believe that if we have the life of a mother as an issue, the mother’s life takes priority, but we must make every effort to save the life of the child.”) Asked about one of the main goals for the pro-life movement, however, Duffy said he had not heard of transvaginal ultrasounds at all.
A Democratic operative recorded Duffy’s exchange with the questioner at a Feb. 21 townhall meeting in Spooner, Wisc. Through his congressional office, Duffy declined to comment or clarify his views on mandated ultrasounds.
A transcript of the exchange:
Questioner: “I’m wondering about whether or not Rep. Duffy if you would support the legislation that’s in the Wisconsin legislature called ‘Right To Know Your Unborn Child’. And if, because you’ve said in the past that you are 100% pro-life, would you support federal legislation to require trans-vaginal ultrasounds for
pregnant women? And if not, then why?
Duffy: “I don’t know what a trans-vaginal ultrasound is?”
Questioner: “You don’t?”
Duffy: “No … I haven’t had one.”
[Laughter from the room]
Questioner: “It’s been in the news …”
Questioner: Right now it’s being discussed on the Wisconsin level, I realize you’re not involved in that but is this something that you would support on the federal level?
Duffy: I haven’t heard of it. And just like I told you I’m pro life, and I know that you are too, but I’m not willing to say I’ll support what you’re talking about because I haven’t seen the bill, even though we’re probably in agreement on that issue.
Questioner: So you don’t know what it is?>
Questioner: Oh, OK, thank you.
The audio, posted by Wisconsin Democrats:
For full context, audio of the entire town hall meeting is below. The ultrasound question comes in around 25:30.