Alabama state Sen. Clay Scofield (R) backed off a provision Monday that would have forced women to submit to transvaginal ultrasounds before getting an abortion. The move mirrors the fate of an ultrasound measure in Virginia, which was similarly scrapped in favor of one that mandated a less invasive procedure.
Less than a week after the bill passed out of committee, Scofield, a co-sponsor of the Alabama legislation, announced he planned rewrite the bill. "'I am committed to amending this (bill) to specify that it is the woman's choice which method of ultrasound that she would be more comfortable with,'' he said.
The change of course comes after state Sen. Linda Coleman (D) denounced the transvaginal ultrasound bill as nothing less than "a state-sanctioned rape bill," arguing in a recent interview that beyond restricting access to safe abortion care, the bill amounts to an assault on women.
"You can't tell me forcing a probe into a woman's vagina against her consent is anything but rape," Coleman told RH Reality Check. "You can put icing on it, dress it up, but this is the forced penetration of a woman's vagina without her consent."
When the bill, SB 12, passed with a 4-1 vote last week, Coleman was the lone dissenter. The chairman of the committee Greg Reed (R), himself a sponsor of the bill, said he voted for the bill because it would help “a mother to understand that a live baby is inside her body.” Reed is also the president of Preferred Medical Systems, a company which produces and sells ultrasound equipment in five states.
Reed has insisted it wasn't a conflict of interest, claiming it's not company policy to do business with abortion providers. “I do not sell ultrasound equipment in my business to clinics that are abortion clinics,” Reed recently told Times Daily.
An amended version of the bill will now move to the full floor for debate and vote.