The first thing that struck me when I read the text of Senate Bill 2174, which was introduced in Trenton this week, was that I thought I was reading something from the Georgia or Alabama legislature, not New Jersey’s.
The bill would require physicians to offer ultrasound examinations of the fetus to women who opt for an abortion.
While not as draconian as bills in other states (the New Jersey bill does not require the women to undergo a potentially unnecessary procedure), the proposed legislation is unnecessary and dangerous.
Not being a woman, it is difficult for me to put myself in the shoes of a young, pregnant female undergoing an unplanned or dangerous pregnancy. But I would bet that in most cases, she is in need of rational and educated medical advice, not advice from the two male sponsors of this bill (Senators Oroho and Bucco), neither who have medical training. And while the bill does permit physicians to bypass this regulation in the case of medical emergencies, it puts the doctor in a situation where her or his medical decision is subject to litigation and fines. Not only will these unnecessary procedures raise medical costs, but doctors’ malpractice insurance costs would inevitably rise too. And guess who pays?
Legislators should not play doctor. Abortion is legal in New Jersey and throughout the country. We don’t need to emulate those states that are moving backwards. Let the doctor and the woman determine the right course of treatment and determine which expensive diagnostic procedures are warranted.
Instead of worrying about women’s bodies, these two male legislators should concentrate on other health issues like affordable medical care, a clean environment, and workplace safety. That’s how they can best serve the women and men of New Jersey.