Groups protest forced ultrasounds
ST. PETERSBURG - Planned Parenthood groups protested across Florida Thursday, urging Governor Charlie Crist to veto House Bill 1143.
The bill requires women who want abortions to have and pay for an ultrasound in the first trimester. During the exam, those women would have to view the image or have the fetus’ development described to them.
“This is obscene. A woman is more than a womb. A womb belongs in a woman’s body and she has the right to determine what she does with it,” said Betty Liner, protesting with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida in downtown Sarasota.
Supporters of the bill believe that after an ultrasound, some women planning on abortion might change their minds and decide not to go through with it.
“This is very disrespectful to a woman. It’s kind of like ‘you don’t really have the ability to know and study the decision for yourself,’” said Barbara Zdraveck, President of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.
Some fear mandatory ultrasounds would be a threat to choice.
“No matter how you feel about abortion, that should be a private decision. I respect everyone’s decision,” said protester Victoria Creager.
The president of the Sarasota-Manatee Right to Life is in favor of the bill.
“Nothing that the bill does or that we advocate takes away a woman’s choice. What it does is provide information on which she can make that informed choice,” said Right to Life’s Jim Styer.
Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida performed more than 4,000 abortions in 2009. The organization says state lawmakers have refused to help with efforts toward preventing pregnancy.
“There’s hypocrisy here because they won’t support prevention efforts. They won’t support education efforts, but they only will only do things that will block a woman’s access to abortion.”
In St. Pete, opponents of the measure took their message straight to the Governor’s highrise, chanting pleas for a veto.
The cost of an ultrasound can start around $200.
The bill partly make exceptions for women who have legal documentation to prove they are victims of rape, incest, or domestic violence. They would still have to have the ultrasound, but they would be able to refuse reviewing it.
Governor Crist has until Saturday to either veto, sign the bill, or not sign it and allow the bill to become law without his signature.