JEFFERSON CITY — Amy Knudsen testified at a Senate hearing Monday that if she had seen an ultrasound of her baby 20 years ago, she never would have had an abortion.
"I would have seen a baby, no doubt about it," said Knudsen, who told legislators she had an abortion at 14. "I would have had a head, torso, arms, legs."
She was speaking to a bill that would require that women be offered an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to an abortion.
"The most effective way to protect children and keep women from being wounded for life is to ensure that women facing unplanned pregnancies have received factual information concerning their decision," Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, said at the hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
Opposition centered on the argument that an ultrasound would be ineffective.
"Women who come in the day of the procedure — they've made up their mind," said Michelle Trupiano, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. Most women choose not to see an ultrasound, she said.
Abortion rights opponents say seeing a live fetus would persuade a woman to forgo an abortion. According to legislative research staff, 11,580 abortions were performed in Missouri in 2008.
The bill would also require physicians to inform abortion patients of the potential implications of procedures.
Opponents of the bill argued that some physical implications carry small risk.
"It's a little like taking a bazooka to a gnat," NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Pamela Sumners said.
The risk of psychological trauma after an abortion is "built on bad science," she said.
Another bill discussed at the hearing would expand the data provided to the state when an abortion is performed.
This legislation would require physicians to collect information from women about reasons they sought an abortion, such as medical, social or economic factors.
Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, said the bill would allow lawmakers to objectively get information about abortions, with all data being voluntary, confidential and unidentifiable.
"Folks on both sides of the debate believe we need to reduce abortions," Dempsey said.