House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has poured cold water on a measure to add up to 100 ultrasound machines to crisis pregnancy centers around the country.
Dan Allen, a DeLay spokesman, said in a statement, "The majority leader supports ultrasound as part of a comprehensive approach to prenatal care, and he believes that ultrasound helps save lives. But he believes [this measure] could put excessive federal regulation on how care is provided."
Sonograms, the pictures produced by ultrasound, have long been shown to help convince women considering abortions to try to carry their unborn children to term. Christian organizations have begun to pay for the machines, which typically cost $30,000.
The Informed Choice Act, H.R. 216, would spend up to $3 million to buy ultrasound equipment for nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., first introduced the bill in 2002. The number of cosponsors dropped from 53 in the last Congress to 26. It remains in committee.
Thomas Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, said he discussed the legislation with DeLay in mid-November 2004.
"I'm disillusioned with the people who supposedly showed support for it," Glessner said. "We have friends in Congress who don't want to move on it."
Carol Everett, founder of the Heidi Group, a Southern Baptist-affiliated agency, said regulations might prevent her organization from evangelizing abortion-minded women. "I'm not sure how many pregnancy centers will take government money, because they don't want strings attached."
The Heidi Group has already given away about 100 ultrasound machines. It plans to give another 50 to pregnancy centers.
Similarly, Focus on the Family has given 102 pregnancy centers ultrasound machines or helped train their staff to "go medical." Begun in January 2004, Focus's Option Ultrasound requires centers to pay for 20 percent of the costs.
DeLay's stance has not drawn the ire of other pro-life leaders. Some believe the bill might return at the end of the year.
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The Informed Choice Act is available from the Library of Congress.
The Family Research Council has an explanation and background information about the Act.
CT covered the use of sonograms in crisis pregnancy centers. Saved by Sonogram | Ultrasounds help crisis pregnancy centers reduce abortion. (Feb. 24, 2003)
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