Doctors say Graham abortion ban would force women to have transvaginal ultrasounds

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham’s national 15-week abortion ban may cause many women to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound before the pregnancy can be terminated, according to doctors.

Under the bill, which Graham introduced last week, physicians can be prosecuted for terminating pregnancies after 15 weeks, except in a few cases: to save the mother’s life or in cases where the pregnant The woman or girl has previously reported that the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

Doctors will be required to “make an accurate determination of gestational age” to ask each patient about the timing of her pregnancy “and the reason for carrying out such medical examination and tests”.

Because violating Graham’s proposed 15-week ban could result in up to five years in prison, doctors say the law would create a powerful incentive to perform transvaginal ultrasounds to decide the age.

“With just the obligation on it, a lot of gynecologists may lean toward things like ultrasounds because they want to cover themselves up,” said Karen Tang, a gynecological surgeon in Pennsylvania. He said the most accurate medical exams to assess gestational age are ultrasounds, and they are “almost always done transvaginally” in the early months of pregnancy.

Jennifer Lincoln, an obstetrician in Oregon, said the language of the age-determining provision is “vague” but agreed, “Most people would interpret [that] as ultrasound. ,

Still, Ben Hummer, a maternal fetal medicine specialist in Massachusetts, said the uncertainty about gestational age estimates, which could be up to a couple of weeks, meant Graham Bill would have a “chilling effect” on doctors, making his Chances will decrease. To terminate a pregnancy within a week or two of the 15-week mark. “Ultrasound is only so accurate,” Hummer said.

With Democrats in control of the House, Senate and White House, Graham’s bill looks unlikely to go ahead this year. But it immediately raised the stakes for November’s midterm elections, the first time since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned federal abortion protections and opened a path for new national and state-level limits on the practice.

A decade ago, a public backlash forced Virginia Republicans to drop similar transvaginal ultrasound provisions from a state measure that was designed to ensure that more women terminate their pregnancies before their pregnancies can be reached. View the images.

Graham’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Before introducing his bill, Graham’s effort was expected by some in the GOP to help Republicans reestablish abortion politics. Democrats gained traction with voters following the Supreme Court’s June decision, and Republicans are looking for ways to counter that momentum. But Graham’s measure exposed fractures in the GOP, with Republican strategists questioning the wisdom of his timing and some candidates keeping their distance.

In New Hampshire, Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc, who opposes federal legislation on abortion, said in a local interview Sunday that Sen. Maggie Hassan, D.H., is out of step with state voters because she Support abortion rights. And that he must “get over it”. Polls show that a majority of the state’s voters consider themselves “pro”.

Graham’s abortion ban hit Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. who is running for re-election; Rep. Ted Budd, RN.C., who is seeking a Senate seat in his state; And the GOP Senate nominated Herschelle Walker in Georgia and Blake Masters in Arizona.

But for some Republicans in the running to Congress, the idea of ​​a federal law runs contrary to the party’s decades-long belief that the issue should be decided at the state level. For others, the details of Graham’s ban are politically difficult, especially in states that have passed various abortion restrictions in recent years.

Right now, it’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe abortion-inducing drugs during telemedicine appointments. Graham Bill’s age-determining requirement could also effectively eliminate that means of early termination of pregnancy.

The Mississippi law in question in the Dobbs case prohibits abortion in the state after 15 weeks, except in cases involving serious fetal abnormalities — which often can’t be detected until the later stages of pregnancy — or a medical emergency that could threaten the woman’s life. or is at long-term health risk. It has a provision for gestational age which is similar to that of Graham.

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