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Tenn. bill would force women to view ultrasound before abortion

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By Cara Kumari

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) — A Tennessee lawmaker’s proposal that would require women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion is raising questions and gaining national attention.

Some accuse the bill’s main sponsor of only introducing the bill to help an election, but State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, said he believes all women considering an abortion should experience the same medical process as other future parents.

“This decision she is going to make on whether to have an abortion is a life-altering decision,” Tracy said. “It’s a big decision, and this gives her the opportunity to be informed before she makes this life-altering decision.”

Tracy’s bill would require a transabdominal ultrasound before getting an abortion. If the woman doesn’t want to look at the ultrasound, a medical technician must describe the ultrasound image to her in detail.

Opponents of the bill contend Tracy is only bringing it up because he’s challenging U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th District Republican primary next year.

DesJarlais has made headlines for allegedly pressuring a pregnant mistress to get an abortion after campaigning as staunchly pro-life.

“I think it’s really something that he is using for his campaign so he can prove that he’s more conservative than the other candidates are. Secondly, I think it’s ridiculous,” said State Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville.

But there are other questions as well. The waiting period aspect of the bill could also bring up constitutional questions because of a 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling that struck down a waiting period for abortions.

Voters are supposed to go to the polls in November 2014 to decide whether or not to change that and Tracy said the issue is on his radar.

“I’ve talked to attorneys today about it, so we will look through that process and make sure where we are – that it doesn’t affect the ballot in 2014. And I’m concerned about that,” Tracy said.