Over the past two decades, US states have enacted legislation regulating ultrasound scanning in abortion care, including mandating that abortion patients view their ultrasound image. Legal scholars have argued that, by constructing ultrasound viewing as a necessary part of patients’ abortion decision making, these laws aim to control and constrain how women make personal decisions about their bodies and parenthood. To date, however, the discussion of the impact of ultrasound viewing laws on women’s decisional autonomy has occurred in the abstract. Here, we examine the effect of Wisconsin’s mandatory ultrasound viewing law on the viewing behavior of women seeking care at a high-volume abortion-providing facility. Drawing both on chart data from patients before and after the law went into effect and on in-depth interviews with women subject to the mandatory viewing law, we found that the presence of the law impacted patients’ viewing decision making. Moreover, we documented a differential effect of the law by race, with larger impacts on the viewing behavior of black women compared with white women. Our findings call for renewed attention to the coercive power of laws regulating abortion on a macrolevel, investigating not only how they affect individuals’ behavior and experience but also which individuals are impacted.
Coercing Women’s Behavior: How a Mandatory Viewing Law Changes Patients’ Preabortion Ultrasound Viewing Practices
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Katrina Kimport, Nicole E. Johns, Ushma D. Upadhyay; Coercing Women’s Behavior: How a Mandatory Viewing Law Changes Patients’ Preabortion Ultrasound Viewing Practices. J Health Polit Policy Law doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-7104378
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