HomeoldAbortion provider to colleagues: Don’t let women see the sonogram

Abortion provider to colleagues: Don’t let women see the sonogram

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Dr. Sally Faith Dorfman, who worked at Einstein Medical College, gave the following advice to abortion providers:

A compassionate and sensitive sonographer should remember to turn the screen away from the plane of view [of the woman having an abortion]. Staff, too, may find themselves increasingly disturbed by the repeated visual impact of an aspect of their work that they need to partially deny in order to continue to function optimally and to concentrate on the needs of the women who come to them for help.

Transcript excerpts from a talk entitled “Abortion Update” (talk no. 1065), given by Dr. Sally Faith Dorfman, director of Family Planning, Development and Research at Albert Einstein Medical College in New York, at the American Public Hospital Conference November 18, 1985, in Washington DC. Recorded by Robert G Marshall, director of research, Castello Institute.

Quoted in Robert Marshall, Charles Donovan Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press 1991)

Editor’s note. This appeared at liveactionnews.org.

In the realm of reproductive healthcare, the debate surrounding abortion is complex and multifaceted, encompassing a wide range of ethical, moral, and legal considerations. Recently, controversy arose when an abortion provider advised colleagues against showing sonograms to women seeking abortion services, sparking discussion within the medical community and beyond.

Sonograms, or ultrasound images, have long been a standard part of prenatal care, providing valuable information about the development and health of the fetus. In the context of abortion, some healthcare providers offer women the option to view sonograms before undergoing the procedure, believing that it may influence their decision-making process.

However, the advice given by the abortion provider in question challenges this practice, urging colleagues not to show sonograms to women seeking abortion services. The rationale behind this recommendation stems from concerns about the potential emotional impact on women already facing a difficult decision.

Proponents of this approach argue that while sonograms may offer valuable medical information, they can also have unintended consequences for women’s emotional well-being. For some women, viewing a sonogram may elicit feelings of guilt, sadness, or ambivalence, further complicating an already challenging decision-making process.

Additionally, critics of mandatory sonogram viewing argue that it may undermine women’s autonomy and agency, potentially coercing them into continuing unwanted pregnancies against their will. They emphasize the importance of respecting women’s right to make informed decisions about their bodies and reproductive futures, free from undue influence or manipulation.

On the other hand, opponents of the abortion provider’s advice argue that withholding sonograms from women seeking abortion services deprives them of valuable information that could inform their decision-making process. They assert that transparency and full disclosure are essential components of ethical medical practice, enabling patients to make informed choices about their healthcare options.

Furthermore, some argue that sonograms can serve as a powerful tool for education and empowerment, allowing women to see the reality of fetal development and make decisions based on accurate information. By providing women with access to sonograms, healthcare providers can facilitate meaningful conversations about reproductive health and support informed decision-making.

Ultimately, the debate surrounding the use of sonograms in the context of abortion reflects larger questions about patient autonomy, informed consent, and the ethical responsibilities of healthcare providers. While some advocate for greater transparency and openness in medical practice, others emphasize the importance of prioritizing women’s emotional well-being and respecting their right to make decisions free from coercion or judgment.

As the discussion continues, it is essential for healthcare providers to carefully consider the ethical implications of their practices and strive to uphold the principles of patient-centered care, respect for autonomy, and compassion for those facing difficult decisions about their reproductive health. Only through thoughtful dialogue and reflection can the medical community navigate these complex issues in a manner that prioritizes the well-being and dignity of all patients.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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