Legislative committee shoots down abortion ultrasound bill

Legislative committee shoots down abortion ultrasound bill

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming legislative committee on Tuesday rejected a bill that would have required doctors to advise women seeking abortions at least 24 hours before the procedure that they could see an ultrasound image of the fetus and listen to its heartbeat.

The House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee voted 6-3 against the bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Reeder, R-Casper.

Reeder told the committee the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that requiring doctors to give such advice 24 hours before a scheduled abortion procedure doesn't violate women's right to abortion.

Reeder said his bill would help a woman to understand that the abortion procedure will have consequences for her unborn child and allows her to see "what she is carrying is not just a blob of tissue."

Donna Adler, lobbyist for the Diocese of Cheyenne, said the diocese strongly supported the bill on the grounds that it's good for women.

"Abortion is something that the law has permitted, but it's hardly something that we can promote as a social good," Adler said, calling it a tragic circumstance for the woman and the child that she carries.

Adler said the bill would give a woman time to reflect on the importance of her decision.

"In most important decisions that you make in your life, don't you want at least a day to think about them?" Adler said.

Speaking against the bill, Elizabeth Hiatt, of Laramie, said she discovered she was pregnant several years ago, and she and her husband decided not to carry the pregnancy to term.

"It was an agonizing decision that my husband and I discussed for well over a week," Hiatt said. She said that although she wanted to have a baby, she was just starting graduate school and couldn't afford to become a parent.

"The Legislature is not tasked with influencing the moral, ethical or medical decisions of the people of Wyoming," Hiatt said. "It's not this body's job to prevent people from making decisions that they might regret, or that other people might disagree with."

Dr. Larry Meuli, a former Republican legislator from Cheyenne, also testified against the bill.

"This bill gives the impression that women who become pregnant somehow lose the ability to think for themselves, that they are somehow incompetent, so the state needs to come in and help regulate or intervene in their thought process," Meuli said. "To me, that's inappropriate."

Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, said he perceived procedural problems with the bill.

"Every child deserves the opportunity to be in a loving family, whether natural or adopted," Barlow said. "My wife and I support numerous individuals and organizations who provide these opportunities for these beautiful outcomes. But ladies and gentlemen, I believe this is best accomplished through the enactment of love, not a law."

Four Republicans and two Democrats voted against the bill. Voting in favor were Rep. Scott Clem, R-Gillette; Rep. Dan Kirkbride, R-Chugwater; and Rep. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle.

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