I overlooked a press release from Senator Dan Patrick in April that is worth a comment. Patrick hailed the Florida House of Representatives for passing a bill that would require abortion providers to perform an ultrasound procedure prior to performing an abortion. He had proposed similar legislation in the 2007 session, which passed the Senate but died in the House. The law gave the patient the option of viewing the image before terminating the pregnancy. There is no end to the obstacles that the pro-life movement can dream up to place in the way of women seeking an abortion: parental notification, parental consent, counseling, waiting periods, and the availability of reading material, including the those that make the discredited claim of a link between abortions/miscarriages and breast cancer. Over the years, the pro-choice community has tended to oppose all of these proposals as undermining a woman’s right to choose. I believe that this approach has been a mistake and that it has cost pro-choice advocates dearly. Politically, it would have been far wiser not to oppose these efforts. If counseling can persuade a woman not to have an abortion, that ought to be viewed as a good result, instead of a bad one. The same goes for ultrasound treatment. I know what the response will be: These restrictions are not imposed in good faith. They are designed to get women to change their minds. Well, if that is the result, that should be viewed as a good outcome, not a bad one. (I would lift all restrictions in cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother.) By adopting a militant stance that the public sees as not only pro-choice but also pro-abortion, the pro-choice movement lost the PR battle in the 80’s and 90’s. I think that generational change is on the pro-choice side. They shouldn’t blow it by focusing on ancillary issues.
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