Clemmons Helps Delay Ultrasound Bill for a Year


Scott Broden, The Daily News Journal

April 1, 2015 - State Rep. Rick Womick responded to questions today about his bill pertaining to ultrasounds prior to abortions by postponing consideration until 2016.

The Tennessee House Health Subcommittee agreed to schedule the bill to the first calendar next year.

"This is all about ultrasounds and mothers being given the opportunity to see an ultrasound prior to an abortion," Womick told the committee before asking for his bill to come back up next year.

Womick, a Republican from Rutherford County's Rockvale community southwest of Murfreesboro, faced questions from state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, a Democrat from Nashville, about whether the bill would place a burden on women seeking an abortion.

State Rep. Cameron Sexton, a Republican from Crossville, also questioned whetherWomick's bill that called for ultrasounds to be done at least 24 hours prior to an abortion would conflict with another bill calling for a 48-hour waiting period before women can get an abortion.

In addition to hearing from Womick, the committee listened to Myra Simons of Murfreesboro urge them to pass his bill to help more women decide to avoid going through the psychological and physical trauma she went through when she had an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Memphis several years ago.

"I was young and quite frankly naive," Simons said. "I had no information. I only thought it was a quick fix."

Years after having an abortion, Simons served as the board president of the Yes on 1 grass-roots organization that helped persuade the majority of Tennessee voters in November to approve a constitutional amendment that allows lawmakers to place additional limits and regulations on abortions.

Simons also joined Womick in telling people to vote yes on Amendment No. 1 during worship at New Vision Bapitst Church in Murfreesboro.

During the Tuesday hearing in Nashville, Simons said the abortion clinic she went to performed an ultrasound on her without sharing information.

"I was told nothing,"Simons said. "The screen was turned away from me."

The information from the ultrasound "could have changed my life," Simons said.

She said the pain from the abortion was extremely intense.

"I was about to pass out," said Simons, noting that she had tried to reach out to the doctor's medical assistant. "She literally jerked her arm away from me. I was offered no comfort."

Giving women the opportunity to learn about their ultrasounds not only can lead to the potential chance to save the life of the child, but it has the potential to save women from the physical and psychological trauma of having an abortion, Simons said.

State Rep. Bryan Terry, a Republican Health Subcommittee member from Murfreesboro, agreed with Simons that women should have the choice to view and learn about an ultrasound before an abortion.

"It could potentially save two lives," said Terry, who works as a anesthesiologist.

Womick told the committee that about 70 percent of women who see the image of an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child decide against getting an abortion.

The Rockvale Republican faced multiple questions from Clemmons.

"I can't keep up with what you had to say," Clemmons said. "It seems to me that your argument here is that women are being lied to and facts are being misrepresented ... and not being given facts by Planned Parenthood."

Clemmons questioned Womick on the costs that a woman would face from having an abortion on a non-viable fetus in the first trimester of the pregnancy.

Womick contends that there will be no additional costs because abortion clinics already conduct ultrasounds before conducting the abortion.

Clemmons also questioned the purpose of Womick's bill other than to place an "undue burden on the mother."

Clemmons further pressed Womick on what scientific evidence existed on whether women were facing psychological impact.

Womick responded by saying that he knows this after he spoke with more than a dozen women "who went through an abortion."

They face distress, anguish, divorce, drug addiction and other problems, including one woman who was driving through traffic at 100 miles per hour to try to kill herself,Womick said.

Such problems can be avoided if women are provided "the truth and all the information made available to them," Womick said.

Womick contends that abortion clinics oppose having to give each woman they serve the chance to see the ultrasound image because they'll lose business. Women then end up experiencing stress after the abortion, he said.

"They are being told it's just a blob of tissue," Womick said. "They are not being given the full truth."

The Womick bill also faced questions from Sexton pertaining to ultrasounds being performed at least 24 hours prior to the abortion given another bill calling for a 48-hour waiting period on abortions.

When the committee was ready to vote to send the bill to summer study, Womickspoke up to request placing the legislation on the first committee calendar for next year.