NEW YORK -- Convinced that a look inside the womb will dissuade many pregnant women from abortion, anti-abortion activists hope to provide ultrasound equipment to hundreds of pregnancy centers that promote alternatives like adoption.
Congressional allies are drafting a bill that would provide federal funding for the project, which abortion-rights groups bitterly oppose.
"They're using medical technology as political propaganda," said Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Feldt said most so-called crisis pregnancy centers -- also known as pregnancy help centers -- are guided by an anti-abortion agenda that may override a woman's best interests.
Backers of the ultrasound initiative confirm their goal is to reduce abortion, but say their strategy is non-coercive -- they're simply giving pregnant women more information.
"When they get the information to make an informed choice -- once they see the ultrasound -- the majority of women chose to carry the pregnancy to term," said Tom Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.
Represents 750 centers
Glessner says his institute represents 750 pregnancy centers across the United States, out of a total of more than 2,000 which counsel pregnant women on alternatives to abortion. His goal is to have 1,000 centers equipped with ultrasound and certified to use it by 2010.
Some centers are acquiring ultrasound equipment with private funds. An ally of Glessner's in Congress, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., plans to introduce a bill that would help many others by allocating up to $3 million to acquire ultrasound.
"When a woman looks at the ultrasound, she'll have the full measure of what it means to see a live person in the making," Stearns said. "Our long-term goal is to reduce the number of abortions."