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Silent No More Awareness Leaders Testify for Maryland Ultrasound Bill

Silent No More Awareness Campaign Co-founder Georgette Forney and Maryland regional coordinator Leslie Dean this week were among 28 people who spoke in support of a bill in the Maryland Senate that would require abortionists to give women an opportunity to see ultrasound images of their babies prior to an abortion.

During the hearing in the Maryland statehouse in Annapolis, only three people spoke out against the bill that was sponsored by Republican Sen. Bryan Simonaire of Pasadena, Md.

Ms. Dean told members of the Senate Finance Committee that she had an abortion in her last year of nursing school and, after giving birth to her son, had a second abortion. The crippling guilt and grief she experienced following the abortions led to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Ultimately she sought healing and went on to open a pregnancy care center in Baltimore, publish a novel, “Forgiven Much,” and take on the responsibilities of regional coordinator for Silent No More.

Buoyed by the stories and support of all the women who have registered regret for their abortions as part of Silent No More, Ms. Dean, prior to her testimony, said “I have a lot of confidence about today. We are close to 9,000 women. They can’t tell us the way we feel is unusual. It’s our testimony and they can’t deny it.”

Mrs. Forney, a resident of Pittsburgh, told the Senate panel she had an abortion at 16. She was given no information about the procedure and was assured the developing fetus was just “a blob of tissue."

“I wish I had a penny for every time I’ve heard a woman say she was told it was only a blob of tissue, Then she follows up with, ‘If only I had known it was a baby, I wouldn’t have had an abortion.’”

Mrs. Forney described the ultrasound bill as “a responsible response to this problem.”

“Women should have the right to see the ultrasound that is now routinely performed on her prior to the abortion procedure,” she testified. “Women deserve the right to be fully informed when it comes to having any medical procedure performed. We have reproductive rights and we need the right to see our ultrasounds so we can make an informed choice.”

The hearing was adjourned Wednesday night without a vote. A similar bill that would have covered only Anne Arundel County in Maryland was killed in the same committee last year. Sen. Simonaire told Priests for Life he is optimistic that if the new bill is approved by the committee, it will pass the full Senate.

“We have the votes to pass it,” the senator said, adding that Senate president, Sen. Thomas (Mike) Miller, has indicated he will support the bill if it comes up for a floor vote in the Senate. A spokeswoman in Sen. Simonaire’s office said she does not know when Sen. Thomas Middleton, Finance committee chairman, will schedule a vote.

Fourteen states have laws similar to the one proposed by Simonaire, and efforts are under way in several more to enact ultrasound legislation.

Sen. Simonaire said there are more than 35,000 abortions annually in Maryland, where there has been “no significant policy change in 20 years.” While the national rate has been decreasing since 2000, Maryland’s has been growing.

“Maryland’s rate is 50 percent higher than the national rate,” the senator said. Noting that an ultrasound options bill enacted in Arkansas in 2003 has led to a 7 to 15 percent decline in abortions in that state, the father of seven children said, “We could save 2,000 to 4,000 lives with this bill.”

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said that those who label themselves pro-choice but oppose the bill “should face the fact that they are more interested in keeping the abortion industry from losing business than they are in promoting informed choice for women.”

Eight Democrats and three Republicans serve on the Senate Finance Committee. Click here for email links and phone numbers for each member and voice your support of the bill, known as SB250.

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