By The Numbers: How Many States Require an Ultrasound Viewing Before an Abortion?

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 16, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC to rally conservatives and generate ideas.  (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 16: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 16, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC to rally conservatives and generate ideas. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Republican governor/maybe-presidential hopeful Scott Walker signed a new law requiring that women who wanted to get abortions be required to get an ultrasound of the fetus before making their decision. Walker’s reasoning was that he wanted women to make informed choices (i.e. choose life!) about their unborn children. (Side note: he also referred to ultrasounds as “a cool thing out there.” I’m not touching that one.)

I wanted to find out how widespread the practice of requiring expectant mothers to view an ultrasound before proceeding with an abortion was. So I turned to trusty source The Guttmacher Institute for some stats.

Number of states that require giving contextual information (i.e. written materials and/or verbal counseling) around the ultrasound: 12

Number of states that require the abortion provider to show and describe the ultrasound: 3

Number of states that require the abortion provider to offer a viewing of the ultrasound if it’s part of the abortion process: 9

The Guttmacher has more numbers on this topic. Personally, I find it fascinating that these laws are essentially banking on the assumed fact that women are ruled by their emotions and are baby-crazy, and so seeing an ultrasound before an abortion would change their minds.

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