Fox News gave likely 2016 presidential hopeful and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) a platform to double down on his assertion that ultrasounds -- mandatory in his state for women seeking abortions -- are just a “cool” thing.
This week Walker defended his state's legislation forcing women seeking abortions to first undergo ultrasounds that are likely to be transvaginal, dismissing the procedure as “just a cool thing out there” during an appearance on The Dana Show with Dana Loesch.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto defended Walker with the same excuse during a May 28 interview on Fox Business' Cavuto, asserting that “I knew what you meant by that, but obviously that was not the reception” the statement received. Walker replied that backlash was simply a “typical example” of how progressives and the media “take out of context comments out there” -- but then the governor immediately doubled down on his original comments. Walker reiterated that “I think ultrasounds are cool” (emphasis added):
WALKER: This is a typical example of the left -- not just leftist organizations, but some even in the left in the media -- take out of context comments out there. You're right, I talked about, my kids are 19 and 20, Tonette and I have the first ultrasound picture that was taken of both. And that's something that we treasure. That was each of our children. In fact, Matthew had the side of his head turned so you could see his hand and his mouth, what appeared to be sucking on his thumb.
CAVUTO: That's so cool. Mine had an iPhone. It was the weirdest thing. But seriously, they said 'stay out governor, this is none of your business.
WALKER: Well they're pushing back on it, saying I said it was cool. Well, I think ultrasounds are cool. And they tried to mischaracterize our law, says, simply put, if someone is going to go in for abortion, we require the provider, whoever is doing that procedure, has to provide access to an ultrasound, a traditional ultrasound, not the kind they planned out there, because we believe as someone who's pro-life, I believe that if someone has access to seeing that information, if they can look at it, not forced to, but if they can look at it if they so choose, if that's available, chances are they're going to pick life. They'll pick the life of that unborn child. I think that's a great thing. And if they don't, under the law, they don't have to. But the reality is, I think those on the left are afraid of people actually having information. They say they're pro-choice, but they don't want an informed choice.
These “cool” ultrasounds are in actuality often a highly invasive procedure now mandated by the state of Wisconsin for women seeking an abortion. When the measure was enacted in 2013, medical experts spoke out against its dangerous implications, which the Wisconsin Medical Society deemed to be “a direct infringement on the patient-physician relationship and injects non-evolving government mandates into medical science.” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists similarly spoke out against the law, writing that the ultrasound “requirements do not make abortion safer for women, but do create unnecessary bureaucratic barriers and add both emotional and financial stress to an already difficult decision.”
Although the law doesn't necessarily say that all of the required ultrasounds must be conducted transvaginally, many women will still be forced to undergo the procedure, as the vast majority of abortions are done prior to the point in pregnancy where a transabdominal ultrasound would allow the fetus to be seen and described. From PolitiFact:
Rather, the law requires “an ultrasound on the pregnant woman using whichever transducer the woman chooses” -- either transvaginal or transabdominal -- according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Council.
But there is more to consider.
Under the law, the person doing the ultrasound must tell the pregnant woman during the procedure “what the ultrasound is depicting,” including the “dimensions of the unborn child and a description of any external features and internal organs that are present and viewable on the image.” The person must also display the ultrasound images so that the pregnant woman may view them, but the woman can't be forced to view them.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin told us that only a transvaginal ultrasound would enable a clinician to meet the requirements of the law for early-stage pregnancies, up to 12 weeks. And according to an August 2014 report from the state Department of Health Services, 84 percent of abortions in Wisconsin are performed at 12 weeks or less.