Sens. Carson, Whitley Disagree on Ultrasound Requirement in Bill To Capture Abortion Data

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Paula Tracy photo

From left, Senators Suzanne Prentiss, D-Lebanon, Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton, and Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry are pictured talking during a break in the Senate Chambers last June in this file photo.


CONCORD – Two state Senators disagree on what Senate Bill 461 would require relative to ultrasounds before an abortion.

Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, issued a news release Tuesday to say that an ultrasound would not be required to establish gestational age to obtain an abortion, but Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton who is running for Congress, disagreed.

Carson said, “The bill does not require an ultrasound to establish gestational age any more than it requires a birth certificate to establish the woman’s age,” Carson said.

  Like much medical information, gestational age is easily obtained by talking to the patient and asking them questions, Carson said.

Whitley said that is not the case. “Subsection (e) of the legislation requires reporting of gestational duration, not an estimation. This could mean that to adhere to this reporting requirement, providers may have to perform additional tests, which could include transvaginal ultrasounds.

“In the case of abortions very early in pregnancy, the only way to definitively determine gestational duration is through an ultrasound, often an intrusive, medically unnecessary, transvaginal ultrasound,” Whitley said in an email.

Carson said: “This is just another attempt by Democrats to whip up a frenzy around the abortion issue where one is not warranted.  In the past, they have falsely claimed that abortion is restricted in New Hampshire.  Now they are doing it with this absurd claim that an ultrasound would be required or that patient privacy is at risk. None of these things are true and they should stop misleading Granite Staters.”

Whitley said: “Further, in a post-Roe environment it is of paramount importance that we ensure all private, personal information regarding abortion must be securely protected so that this information can never be weaponized by states who are hostile towards abortion.”

Last Thursday, Senate Bill 461 that would have New Hampshire collecting data on all abortions passed the Senate along party lines and was sent to the House of Representatives.

If passed by the House and signed by the governor, it would require the state to collect data on the date, place, age, state of residence for the woman, method used, medication dispensed and gestational age of the fetus at an abortion.

Republicans, including Carson, at the last session said the data would not be used to identify the woman or the doctor. Democrats, including Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said the language in the bill does not prohibit disclosure if collected by the state Health and Human Services Department. They said it would have a chilling effect on abortion and abortion providers and be an added cost for those who need to establish gestational age before they can terminate their pregnancy.

Whitley said a government-forced ultrasound would be required to establish gestational age if the woman could not recall her last period and would be highly intrusive.

She noted that such an ultrasound to determine gestational status was eventually taken out of the state’s fetal protection act which now limits abortion to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy with some exceptions.  

This amendment to a bill sought by Democrats to remove confusing language, is “an outrageous overreach,” Whitley said, and a significant financial and logistical barrier to women in addition to a privacy violation.

Carson supported the measure and noted 46 other states collect this information. She insisted there is no requirement in the amendment to do an ultrasound and added this is a collection of “critical data on how many abortions occur a year.”

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