Pro & Con: New legislation would require sonograms before abortions

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Pro

The third time's the charm, or at least, it may be for Texas Senate Bill 16.

The Texas Senate finally approved the bill Thursday. The bill was passed by the senate in 2007 and 2009 but died in the House. The bill would require a doctor to perform an ultrasound on women before they have an abortion, and the doctor would have to describe the images and explain the progress of the fetus' organs and limbs. The ultrasound would not be required if the reason for the abortion was for incest, rape or fetal abnormalities.

This time, the bill has been designated an "emergency" measure by Gov. Rick Perry, and an emergency it is.

The idea of making such a life-altering decision without understanding the full consequences that it has on both parties is absurd.

The number of abortions occurring for reasons other than incest, rape or fetal abnormalities speak for themselves. According to The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, 93 percent of all abortions occur for social reasons, like when the child is unwanted or inconvenient.

"Can we not at least give the baby at least one more chance for survival by giving that mother that information?" state Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) said.

What is so wrong with informing someone of what's going on in her own body? If someone truly wants an abortion, the information given to her after her sonogram won't sway her decision.

The majority of women having abortions in Texas are in their 20s 8212; 58 percent to be exact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and 85 percent are unmarried. And according to the National Abortion Federation's website, many of these women have little understanding of their bodies and start having sex before knowing about methods to prevent pregnancy.

Being young and unwed will likely make it emotionally and financially harder to support a child, but there are other alternatives, such as adoption, for these women rather than abortion.

It is unclear where the state will get funding for these ultrasounds. While the state struggles to find money for education, school districts such as Fort Worth and Arlington are looking at a grim future of potential layoffs, according to Feb. 15 articles in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But this bill is still necessary for Texas women to make an educated decision about their children's lives.

The decision to end a life affects more than just the subject. Abortion is ending a life.

Ultrasounds offer the opportunity for women to reconsider other options that would spare their children's lives and spare their consciences from possible repercussions.

Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.

Con

The never-ending cycle of the age-old abortion debate was pushed into one more circle of argumentation last Thursday when the Texas Senate passed a bill requiring women undergoing an abortion to get an ultrasound.

The measure, if passed, will force women to submit to an ultrasound and then "...to listen to an explanation of the images, except in cases of rape or incest or if there are fetal abnormalities," according to a Reuters article last Thursday.

I do believe that the designation of pro-choice is an apt one. My argument is not about condoning the killing of anyone or anything 8212; it is about the choice a woman has to do what she wants with her own body. The government should never, ever have the explicit power to tell people what they can and cannot do concerning their own bodies.

As a state already in the red, Texas faces a hefty shortage on the state budget to fund non-negotiable programs like education, and it may have to slash pre-kindergarten programs, vaccines and health insurance.

According to Parenting Magazine, the average cost of an ultrasound is $200. In 2007, a total of 81,079 abortions were reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services. This number includes all induced abortions performed in Texas plus those obtained in other states by Texas residents. Two hundred dollars multiplied by 81,079 ultrasounds for those abortions would be $16,215,800.

Gov. Rick Perry says the bill is to ensure "that women are fully, medically informed before they make the life-changing decision to terminate a pregnancy."

What about treating the problem at its source and not its effects? That $16,215,800 could be put toward sex education and awareness programs in high schools. Use those funds to incorporate safe sex seminars and similar-minded events and programs.

Approaching the problem from its root will have a much greater effect than dealing with its consequences. People are going to have sex no matter what 8212; make sure they're informed of the ramifications and are making the best decisions they can rather than attempting to control their free will.

More recently, the Republican-controlled House voted to cut all funding for any purpose to Planned Parenthood. "Women and Planned Parenthood are under attack by Republicans who want to make government smaller by making government "just small enough to fit inside our bedrooms and our medicine cabinets,'" NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan said in a Monday article in the Huffington Post.

Chances are that women having an abortion have thought about the choice they are making. Chances are they know the term abortion means they are aborting a life. Trying to guilt trip women undergoing an already psychologically damaging and exponentially difficult, life-altering procedure isn't helping anyone. It's insulting and degrading.

The endgame is to make the woman have the child and give it a chance at life, but the government has no business deigning to tell her what is and isn't acceptable concerning her own body. "It's the most serious decision they'll ever make in their lives, and now you're trying to put government in the middle of that decision," state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said.

The designation of pro-choice is an apt one 8212; it's about the choice to choose what decision is right for what woman in what situation. The government should never be able to say what choice that is.

Andrea Bolt is a senior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.

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