“It’s been five years, but I can’t stop thinking about it.” As manager of a pregnancy resource center, I knew what she couldn’t forget. Her abortion. The email from a former client broke my heart; I cried as I connected her with a post-abortion counseling ministry.
A woman with an unplanned pregnancy is living in an emotional tornado, facing one of the most difficult decisions of her life. She is torn by her fear of making the wrong decision, and an overwhelming instinctual need to “do something.” In my years of counseling women, I’ve seen the power of information. Clear factual information about her pregnancy, the fetus, and her three options is invaluable. Armed with information, she can think through her options and make a well-informed decision. To deny a woman access to any applicable information as she considers an abortion is cruel. Suppose two years later she decides to have a baby. When she sees the ultrasound, she remembers her abortion was at the same gestational age. Joy turns to horror as she realizes she aborted her first child because she didn’t know.
Current Virginia law requires every woman considering abortion will have access to critical information. An ultrasound is required to determine the gestational age of the fetus and allow the mother the opportunity to see the baby. The abortion facility is also required to provide specific information to assure informed consent.
In current law, informed consent is specified as:
- A full, reasonable and comprehensible medical explanation of the nature, benefits and risks of and alternatives to the proposed procedure
- An instruction that the woman may withdraw her consent at any time prior to the performance of the procedure
- An offer for the woman to speak with the physician who is to perform the abortion so that he may answer any questions and provide further information concerning the procedures
- A statement of the probable gestational age of the fetus at the time the abortion is to be performed
- An offer to provide printed materials containing information about adoption as an option, counseling services, paternity and child support, pediatric and maternal health care, fetal development, public and private agencies and services that provide ultrasound imaging free of charge.
I have written about the attacks on Virginia’s abortion laws by Planned Parenthood. Judge Hudson issued his decision recently. Judge Hudson upheld current Virginia law requiring an ultrasound and all information required to allow an informed decision.
The Virginia legislature has proposed HB-980 to entirely strike this requirement! The bill is moving quickly through the legislature. Please call your state legislators and insist they protect women, by protecting every woman’s right to make an informed decision.
No woman should have to cry, “ I didn’t know.”