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State Rep Furious Over ‘Hostile Amendments’ To Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

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An opponent and a supporter of abortion rights demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Credit: AP)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A bill to require abortion doctors in Illinois to offer the mother a view of an ultrasound is under attack, by lawmakers attaching hostile amendments.

The bill, HB 4085, would require a woman to view an ultrasound image of her fetus before getting an abortion, or decline to do so in writing.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Joe Lyons (D-Chicago) passed out of the state House Agriculture Committee by a vote of 11-2 last month.

But five amendments to the bill have now been approved in committee.

One amendment, sponsored by Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Champaign) would tighten regulations on who can perform ultrasounds, and another by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) would require disclosure of the cost of the ultrasound.

A third amendment by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) would extend the ultrasound requirement to dozens of other medical procedures, “including, but not limited to any cardiac, cardiac, renal, liver, gallbladder, vascular, abdominal, obstetric, gynecological, muscle, ligament, tendon, eye, testicle, salivary gland, lymph node, breast, liver, kidney, and joint diagnosis or treatment.”

A fourth amendment by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) would expand the counseling requirement to men seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction, and a fifth, by Rep. Mary E. Flowers (D-Chicago) would tie insurance coverage of erectile dysfunction drugs to that of birth control pills.

Lyons asked the amendments’ sponsors if they would be willing to co-sponsor the entire bill, and all five said they would be unlikely to do so.

“That’s what you call, ladies and gentlemen, a hostile amendment to kill a bill,” Lyons concluded.

Lyons asked the lawmakers to withdraw their amendments and simply debate the bill in the full House.

“If you want to kill my bill, kill it on the House floor,” he said.

Cassidy explained her amendment about requiring counseling for erectile dysfunction as well as abortion earlier this month.

Her amendment advises that before getting a prescription, men should see a visual depiction of priapism, the most common side effect of Viagra use, in which a man’s erection does not go down for a period of more than six hours. Such a provision is only fair if women are to be forced to get ultrasounds before getting abortions, Cassidy said.

“If we are going to do this, we need to do it in a way that is applied equally,” Cassidy said earlier this month, adding that she is tired of politicians deciding that “women are incapable of making their own decisions.”

In calling for the ultrasound requirement, Lyons said his goal was to save the lives of unborn fetuses who might be aborted.

“There might be a little fraction of women who might want to see that ultrasound, who might change their minds. If it saves one life in Illinois, I’m for it,” he says.

Similar bills have been generating controversy around the country.

Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Bob McConnell sighed a bill that requires women to view an ultrasound before getting an abortion. That bill has drawn particular criticism for its requirement that some women undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound probe.

A similar law is also on the books in Texas, where a woman must undergo a sonogram and hear a doctor’s verbal description of what she is seeing – and even ask the patient if she wants to hear the fetal heartbeat – before an abortion can be performed.

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