Pro-life groups are optimistic about the effectiveness of ultrasound technology in persuading pregnant women to choose giving birth over having an abortion.
Ultrasound technology has played an important role in helping pregnant women realize that the fetuses they carry are "alive and vulnerable," said Roland Warren, CEO of Care Net, in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday. Care Net is a Christian ministry that supports such women through its network of pregnancy centers, 60 percent of which offer ultrasound exams at no charge.
Warren compares the impact of ultrasound technology on the pro-life movement to the impact of television cameras on the civil rights movement. During the civil rights movement, cameras captured images of the injustices perpetrated against black communities in the South and allowed those images to be broadcast nationwide.
"You have a similar kind of thing that's happening with ultrasound," said Warren. "In a similar way, you know, the ultrasound is coming into the womb and it's helping people understand what's happening to the most vulnerable among us."
A number of different pro-life organizations have found ultrasounds helpful to promoting their cause.
The website for Options Pregnancy Resource Centers in Oregon says that among the organization's Project Ultrasound clients who were considered "at high-risk for choosing abortion," 75 percent of those who declined to receive an ultrasound ended up having an abortion. In comparison, only 30 percent of those who received an ultrasound did the same.
CitizenLink reported in February 2012 that Focus on the Family's Option Ultrasound Program (OUP), which offers grants to support the use of ultrasound technology in Pregnancy Medical Clinics, had a role in preventing an estimated 120,000 abortions since the program's inception in 2004.
Abortion clinic doctors in Texas are now legally required to provide pregnant women with a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion can be performed, except in some cases where the procedure can be performed no earlier than two hours after the sonogram. Doctors must also make the unborn child's heartbeat audible to the woman seeking an abortion.
Texas Right to Life spokesperson Rachel Bohannon told CP via email that the "Sonogram Law," which went into effect in February 2012, had an immediate impact in that it reduced the number of abortions and increased the number of visitors who visited pregnancy centers to receive free sonograms.
"When women come face to face with their preborn children, their natural desire to protect their children begins to kick in, and they often reconsider their abortion decision," said Bohannon.
"This is not manipulation on the part of Pro-Lifers. The Sonogram Law is not meant to guilt or shame women out of abortions, as our opponents claim. The purpose of the Sonogram Law is very simple: to make women fully-informed by presenting them with all the medical information, and thus bring abortion practice in Texas up to contemporary medical standards of informed consent."
Bohannon says appeals to "science, technology and common sense" have resulted in many pro-life victories since Roe v. Wade was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, and will continue to be important moving forward.
Warren described this week's 40th anniversary of the court's decision as being "bitter," and even suggested that modern technology and medical knowledge might have prevented the legalization of abortion if it had been available before Roe v. Wade.
"I think, frankly, had people known then what we know now in terms of fetal development and all these different pieces, it would have been very difficult, I think, for abortion to even have become the law of the land," he said.
Approximately 55 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. since the Roe v. Wade decision. According to the Texas Right to Life website, at least 1.2 million abortions are reported every year.
A total of 43 abortion restrictions were enacted across 19 states in 2012 – the second highest total ever passed in one year – the Guttmacher Institute reports.