Commentary: Nothing new in S.C. ultrasound bill

This editorial appeared in The Rock Hill Herald.

A state bill adding another requirement for providing information to women seeking abortions does nothing new to limit access to abortions. It also does little to improve regulations already in place.

A prefiled bill sponsored by seven S.C. House lawmakers, including Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, would require women seeking abortions to be given a list of clinics and other facilities that provide free ultrasounds. The list could include pregnancy crisis centers – many run by anti-abortion groups – that actively discourage abortion and encourage women to choose other alternatives.

This bill would add to an already long list of state requirements that come into play any time a woman requests an abortion. Some women's rights groups say South Carolina is one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to regulating abortion.

Women cannot simply go to a clinic, request an abortion and have the procedure done. Any woman seeking an abortion first must have an ultrasound, and clinic officials must offer patients the opportunity to view the ultrasound.

State law requires at least a one-hour waiting period for all women seeking abortions. Abortion providers in South Carolina must tell women the likely age of their fetuses, give them information about fetal development and inform them about alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.

In 2007, anti-abortion state lawmakers tried to take the restrictions a step too far and, ultimately, had to retreat. A proposed bill would have required all women seeking abortions to sign statements swearing they had viewed ultrasound images of their fetuses.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Rock Hill Herald.