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Bill Would Require Ultrasounds for Women Seeking Abortion Services in Pennsylvania

The so-called Women's Right to Know Act (House Bill 1077) would require an abortion provider to do an ultrasound at least 24 hours before the procedure. Supporters say they want to make sure women have all of the medical information necessary before making a final decision on having an abortion.

"I think for anybody going into any medical procedure, no matter what that medical procedure is, you have a right to know from medical professionals everything there is to know about that procedure," said the bill's sponsor, Representative Kathy Rapp (R-Forest, McKean, and Warren Counties).

The bill would require the ultrasound to determine the gestational age of the fetus, and establish the right of the woman to view the ultrasound and hear the fetal heartbeat. Rapp said women would not be required to view the ultrasound or results. Kim Evert, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, said women already have access to such information.

"Women are informed prior to the procedure how far along the pregnancy is and they're given the information about the procedure. So this new piece of legislation does nothing more than create more barriers, make it more difficult. There are already consent procedures in place and women do get the information they need to make an informed decision," she said.

Evert added the bill has no basis in medicine, and is just a political tool to try and further restrict abortions in Pennsylvania.

"This is not about improving medical care for women, it's about the personal prejudice of politicians and political organizations substituting what should remain the judgment of women and doctors. So this is not about better medical care, it's about influencing women and restricting access to abortion services," she said.

Representative Rapp said she would classify the Women's Right to Know Act as pro-life legislation. But she likened it to picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. "You have to sign whether or not you want to receive counseling regarding that prescription, so that you make an informed decision on that prescription you're going to be ingesting into your body," she said.

Rapp said the bill has been introduced and is awaiting committee action, which could come as early as this week, or sometime in early February.