A legislative committee approved a proposal Wednesday that would require abortion doctors to offer their patients ultrasound images of their unborn child before ending their pregnancies.
Supporters say the measure is needed to give women more information to make an informed decision about whether they should have an abortion.
Opponents say many doctors already show their patients ultrasound images before the procedure and the intent of the proposal is to throw up more barriers for abortion providers.
The bill by Republican Rep. Kimberly Yee of Phoenix won approval on a 6-3 vote by the House’s health and human services committee. It will head to the full House after it receives a review of its legality.
The bill also would require doctors to offer women seeking an abortion a chance to hear their unborn child’s heartbeat if one is audible. Doctors also would have to give an explanation of what’s depicted in an ultrasound image, such as pointing out internal organs.
Doctors who violate the proposed ultrasound rule could face the suspension or revocation of their medical licenses. The proposal also would let an abortion patient or the father of an unborn child file a lawsuit in response to a violation.
Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said the ultrasound requirement is designed to add more bureaucracy for abortion providers and discourage people from ending pregnancies.
“This is about putting hurdles in front of people seeking abortions,” Howard said. “It’s not about informed consent. It’s not about safety.”
Yee pointed out that Planned Parenthood already offers its patients ultrasound images before performing abortions. “It really isn’t requiring a new process,” Yee said.