The chairman of the Alabama Senate Health Committee said he doesn’t see a conflict of interest between his support for a bill that would require physicians to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions and his company, which sells the type of equipment the bill would require.
Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, voted to move Senate Bill 12 out of committee last week because he said it’s a good bill that would help “a mother to understand that a live baby is inside her body.”
But there’s no chance Preferred Medical Systems, where Reed is vice president, would benefit, he said. It is the company’s policy not to do business with abortion providers, Reed said.
“I do not sell ultrasound equipment in my business to clinics that are abortion clinics,” he said recently. According to campaign information, Preferred Medical Systems sells diagnostic medical equipment in five states.
The bill from Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, passed out of committee with a vote of 4-to-1 last week. Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, voted against it.
The bill calls for the ultrasounds to be done either vaginally or with an abdominal scan, whichever would display the embryo or fetus more clearly. The doctor also would be required to describe the images to the woman.
Scofield said he hopes that, if signed into law, his bill will stop some abortions. Though the bill states a woman can look away from the ultrasound image, Scofield wants her to see it.
“So she sees that this is not just a clump of cells as she is told,” he said. “She will see the shape of the infant. And hopefully, she will choose to keep the child.”
The procedure would not be required in the case of a woman seeking an abortion to save her own life. But the bill doesn’t allow victims of sexual assault to opt out of the ultrasound.
Physicians who don’t perform the required ultrasound could be convicted of a Class C felony, which is punishable with between two and 20 years in prison. The bill also says the doctor could be sued by the unborn child’s father or grandparents.
Hundreds protested a similar bill in Richmond, Va., last week, The Associated Press reported.
Reed also had his own abortion-related bill pass out of the committee this month. Senate Bill 10 would allow Alabama to opt out of any federal funding used by residents to pay for abortions.
Both bills now move to the full Senate.