To: House Human Services Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: House Bill 1371
Date: January 20, 2009

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports House Bill 1371.

House Bill 1371 furthers a legitimate state interest that persons on all sides of the abortion issue should support. Long gone are the paternalistic days of medicine when we allowed doctors to withhold crucial information from a patient before a medical procedure. This legislative body has already found that this is particularly true with regards to abortion when it enacted our existing abortion informed consent requirements.

New techniques and new understandings about the consequences of abortion and pregnancy, however, require improvements in our informed consent law. These laws are concrete and effective steps to protect women’s health and ensure that their consent to abortion is as fully informed as possible. These provisions advance what is recognized by the Supreme Court as the state’s important and legitimate interest in promoting women’s health and protecting life.

For example, ultrasound requirements serve an essential medical purpose in that they can diagnose ectopic pregnancies which, if left undiagnosed can result in infertility or fatal blood loss.(1) An ultrasound furthers informed choice by showing the unborn child as he or she really is, so that a woman has a better understanding of what occurs in an abortion. Moreover, medical evidence indicates that women feel bonded to their children after seeing them on an ultrasound. Researchers go on to argue that once that happens, a woman is less likely to feel ambivalent about her pregnancy and more invested in the health of her unborn child. (2)

In short, a requirement that a woman be given the opportunity to receive and view an ultrasound is a legally acceptable means of furthering the state’s legitimate interest in furthering women’s health, ensuring informed consent, and protecting human life. Women deserve nothing less.

We urge a Do Pass recommendation on House Bill 1371.

1 Mayo Clinic, Ectopic Pregnancy (2007), available at:
2 Joseph C. Fletcher and Mark I Evans, Maternal Bonding in Early Fetal Ultrasound Examinations, N.E. J. Med. 308, 392 (1983).