- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Dozens of supporters and opponents of abortion rights gathered at the Rhode Island Statehouse Tuesday as lawmakers reviewed legislation that would require abortion providers to show a woman an ultrasound of the fetus before performing the procedure.

Supporters say the proposal would ensure women are better informed before they decide whether to have an abortion. They note that a woman would not be forced to view the ultrasound.

Physicians who violate the proposed rule would face fines of up to $100,000 for a first offense, and up to $250,000 for subsequent offenses.

“The true intent is to make sure the woman or the girl has all the information before making the decision,” said Rep. Karen MacBeth, D-Cumberland. This is the fifth year MacBeth has sponsored the legislation.

Critics including Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women said the proposal is demeaning and would intrude upon the doctor-patient relationship. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also opposes the legislation, which it says has passed in some 20 states.

“This bill sets a dangerous precedent by legislating specific diagnostic protocols physicians must follow,” the group said in a written statement. “Decisions about a patient’s medical care and management are always best made between the patient and the expert in medical care, the physician.”

No vote on the bill has been scheduled.

The measure was one of several abortion-related bills reviewed Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee. One seeks to outlaw abortions as a means of sex selection, while another would seek to protect the right to seek an abortion in Rhode Island should the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion be overturned.

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