#trending

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It’s my turn for the #trending column this Sunday. In order to write a less impassioned but more informed piece, I did a TON of research earlier this week . I wanted to make everything I found available to readers who were interested as it wasn’t as easy as you might think to find information from both sides of the aisle on this hotbed issue. 

First, I’ll give you a little taste of my column: 

Monday, I learned via Twitter that state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, proposed a bill mandating ultrasounds for women seeking to have an abortion. Many clinics already perform ultrasounds to gauge the gestational age of the fetus, but Tracy’s bill proposes a detailed ultrasound that, if the patient refuses to view, will be described to her in detail.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of Feb. 1, eight states have laws requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, but what is the purpose? Proponents claim that women who can see and hear the fetus will refuse to go through with the procedure. This logic is often shrouded in the phrase “informed consent.” In that spirit, I sought to become as informed as possible.

It’s easy to find arguments that feed whichever rhetoric you choose to espouse. With automatic filters in major search engines, it is difficult to find balanced results from which one might truly become informed. Thankfully, I have DuckDuckGo to rely on — a search engine which doesn’t track or filter bubble.

— I started by reading the text of the bill itself and breaking down what each section of the bill meant. 

— This article from The American Independent was one of the first resources I found. It led me to several of the following articles, studies and data.  

— 1983 article in the “New England Journal of Medicine” by  that anti-abortionists like to quote to “prove” that ultrasounds deter women from having abortions. The study spoke with two women whose ultimate response was “I believe it is human.” 

— I was trying to find information on what year ultrasounds became a part of standard care in obstetrics and gynecology to see if there was any intrinsic value to the Fletcher and Evans paper of 1983. After a couple of hours searching, this was the closest I could find: NIH study from 1979 stating that they still don’t recommend routine use of ultrasounds.

— Jeanne Monahan wrote a (short) paper on ultrasound policy that looks staggeringly similar to many of the legislative movements over the last few years. Included in the footnotes of her report are studies, articles and other related links. 

— If you’ve read my ramblings on Tumblr before, you’re aware of my obsession with infographics. This article from Remapping Debate had some good information on the legislative movement in 2012 to circumvent Roe v. Wade with laws such as the pre-abortion ultrasound. Included, was a colorful state-by-state infographic showing the varying strictness of abortion laws in our nation.

Using that graphic and the “Requirements for Utlrasound” document below, I studied other states which have enacted similar laws.

— I found several good resources at the Guttmacher Institute:

— The Washington Post did an article in 2010 on the abortion rates in countries with universal healthcare. 

— Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health conducted a study that I very much wanted to read, but it was only offered for pay, so I had to settle for a summary and several slides in a PowerPoint presentation

I found this study very interesting — it changed my mind in a small part of this issue. 

— Finally, the Tennessean did a phenomenal project last year called Abortion in Tennessee.” Extraordinary reporting.