Women seeking abortion are entitled to informed consent, which should include information about the development of their embryo or fetus. Research has found that when women seeking abortion are offered the option to view their ultrasounds, over 40% choose to do so. The same research finds that, as a result of viewing the ultrasound, some women choose to carry their pregnancies. Even among those who continue with their abortions, there is widespread support for offering women the opportunity to view the ultrasound.
Unfortunately, not all abortion providers offer this option. They may believe that abortion is in the woman’s best interest and that the ultrasound would only serve to guilt and shame her. They often see the ultrasound as manipulative. But ultrasounds convey relevant, factual information, and whatever the woman’s reasons for seeking abortion, she has the right to assess this information. Ultrasound viewing laws can require providers to ask women if they would like to view the ultrasound or hear the heartbeat.
Familiarize yourself with ultrasound viewing laws in your state. If you live in a state with no requirements to offer the option, take steps to change that. Here is an outline of ways to work for legislative reform.