Higgins Responds to State Rep. Karen May on Life
Higgins Responds to State Rep. Karen May on Life
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   04.03.12
Reading Time: 4 minutes

I sent an email to my State Representative Karen May (D-Highwood) urging her to vote for the Ultrasound Opportunity Act (HB 4085), which if passed would require that a woman seeking an abortion be offered an opportunity to view an image of the life developing within her. This is May’s response (emphasis added):

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for HB 4085 and HB 4117. I have always been a pro-choice legislator and believe these measures are not about public health, but about trying to push a political agenda. We respectfully disagree on this issue. Abortion is safe and legal and these are obstacles to restrict a woman’s access to reproductive health care.


Karen May

Surely Karen May jests. By what convoluted logic does May arrive at the notion that being offered an opportunity to view an ultrasound image constitutes an obstacle that restricts access to abortion? Since an ultrasound image—which a pregnant woman would be free to refuse—merely enables her to have a more complete sense of exactly what the procedure she is choosing will do, how does it restrict access to abortion? Is May suggesting that more information is an obstacle to access?

One of the darlings of the Left, deceased Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire, argues that “Education…becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” An ultrasound image educates. 

May’s rationalization for withholding information from women reveals a paternalistic and arrogant self-righteousness.   

And is she actually suggesting that her position does not reflect a political agenda? Is she suggesting that offering women an opportunity to view an image of the fetus developing in their bodies is “pushing a political agenda” while her refusal to offer women an opportunity to view their unborn children is a politically neutral position? 

I wonder if May is troubled when imagery is used to educate Americans on a plethora of other issues including tuna-fishing, poultry-farming, smoking, racial discrimination, and war? Does May believe that widely publicizing the now famous photo of the young napalmed girl in Vietnam constituted an inappropriate effort by journalists to “push a political agenda”?   

Many people believe that it was important for Americans to have a fuller more truthful understanding of what was taking place in Vietnam, and the photographic image helped achieve that goal. The image rendered the distant and abstract, real. 

Well, so too does an ultrasound image render real the developing fetus, which is for all practical purposes abstract and distant. Feminists who have tried for decades to convince women that the product of conception between two humans is not really human but is, rather, a lump of tissue, have a harder task when women can see little arms, legs, noggins, and perhaps even beating hearts. But I guess offering women the choice to see these images is too partisan for a non-partisan defender of “choice” like Karen May. 

Some may counter that it’s not the use of images per se that constitutes the imposition of a political agenda, but, rather, that lawmakers are interposing themselves into the doctor-patient relationship and telling doctors how to do their jobs when they require doctors to offer women an opportunity to view  images of the babies they intend to abort. 

But society has long permitted lawmakers to interpose themselves in the doctor-patient relationship. For example, lawmakers affect the practice of medicine when they prohibit doctors from prescribing pharmaceutical-grade heroin (diacetylmorphine) for pain relief or for opioid addiction.

Requiring doctors to offer an opportunity to view an image does not affect any doctor’s execution of an abortion procedure.  It only makes less likely that a pregnant woman will choose it. 

Second, most doctors show patients images of their cancerous tumors prior to surgery. And most doctors show patients images of their teeth before cavities are filled, teeth extracted, root canals performed, or braces applied. If doctors show patients images of dying teeth prior to extraction, shouldn’t they at least offer patients the opportunity to view living fetuses prior to killing and extracting them? 

The interesting question is, why do dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontists, and surgeons voluntarily show their patients images prior to medical procedures, but abortionists don’t? 

I have some questions for Rep. May and her politically neutral colleagues who oppose the Ultrasound Opportunity Act: 

  1. Do they believe that an ultrasound image provides additional information that may be helpful in making a decision of such import and consequence?

  2. Since when is less information helpful in making informed choices?

  3. Do they believe that women who view these images and decide not to abort their children often or rarely regret their decisions?

  4. Is it in any way meaningful to May and her politically neutral compeers that the majority of women who see ultrasound images of their developing babies decide against abortion? 

May’s belief has interesting implications for government schools. If offering people opportunities to view visual images constitutes an inappropriate imposition of a political agenda, then surely public schools, which are arms of the government, must stop offering students the “opportunity” to view Al Gore’s environmental polemic An Inconvenient Truth; or the atheist polemic The God Delusion; or the revisionist history of the Scopes trial, Inherit the Wind; or any film by Michael Moore. And no student should be offered the “opportunity” to see the plays The Laramie Project; Zanna, Don’t!; or Rent.

As usual the Left does not apply their rationalizations — I mean, principles — consistently. They are often eager to use imagery (and texts, and Collection Development Policies, and diversity policies, and laws etc.) to promulgate their views and agenda but then in paroxysms of indignation, proclaim that conservatives ought not be permitted to use the same means to put forth opposing ideas. Over time, the Left’s screeching for diversity has morphed into totalitarian demands for suppression of ideas and images they don’t like. 

While Karen May endorses ignorance, the atheist Albert Camus warns against it: 

[T]he most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.

HB 4085 is a bill that everyone, pro-“choice” and pro-life, should support. It represents both compromise and choice. Not supporting this bill exposes indefensible ideological dogmatism and partisanship. Merely offering women an opportunity to view the living human gestating in their wombs is a reasonable measure to facilitate informed and meaningful consent to a life-altering decision.

Take ACTION: Click HERE to make sure your state representative knows that you support women in crisis pregnancies have a fuller more truthful understanding of the choice she is to make for her and her unborn child.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins was the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008 through early 2023. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years...
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