ShareThis Page

Corbett gets heat on ultrasound comment

| Saturday, March 17, 2012

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett is taking heat from abortion-rights supporters and Democrats over a comment he made about a bill that would require ultrasounds for women seeking to have abortions, saying those who didn't want to see the fetal images could "just ... close your eyes."

The Republican governor was asked at a news conference on Tuesday whether women should be made to watch the images if the legislation becomes law. He replied, "I don't know how you make anybody watch, OK• Because you just have to close your eyes."

Advocates of abortion rights, including several Democratic candidates for various offices, condemned Corbett's remarks as insulting to women, and the flap spread on the Internet. Friday's front page of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg bore the headline "You just have to close your eyes."

"It's not something we can just close our eyes and look the other way. And we certainly don't want our governor to be treating women's health care in that way, either," U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat who is seeking a fifth term, said at a news conference in Philadelphia.

Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said his boss's comment was taken out of context by liberals "trying to make this into a political issue instead of stating the facts."

The bill, which has been sidelined at least temporarily because of what House Republican leaders say are questions raised by the medical community, is similar to a Virginia measure signed into law last week.

Republican supporters of the Virginia bill set off a national uproar by proposing to mandate a vaginal ultrasound procedure for women seeking abortions. That provision was replaced by language requiring only external sonograms before it was passed.

Corbett indicated Tuesday he would support a requirement for ultrasounds prior to abortions, provided that they are not medically invasive.

Although the bill does not specify the type of ultrasound, most abortions are performed in the first three months of pregnancy -- making a vaginal ultrasound medically necessary.

Corbett, who opposes abortion rights, signed a bill earlier this year that could force Pennsylvania clinics that perform abortions to undertake expensive facility and staff expansions.

The bill, the product of a bitter fight in the Legislature, was a response to allegations that newborns were killed in illegal late-term abortions performed in a now-closed Philadelphia clinic by workers who were not licensed or properly trained. The doctor who ran the clinic has pleaded not guilty to murder in the deaths of seven babies and a patient who died of a painkiller overdose.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.