A coalition of anti-abortion groups performed a string of live ultrasounds on stage in the Congressional Auditorium Thursday morning to kick off its national "Voices From the Womb" tour, which uses sonograms as a political tool to convert people into opposing abortion.
The campaign invited all 535 members of Congress to witness pregnant women stepping up on stage, one after another, to have their live ultrasounds projected onto a giant screen and described for the audience. Only four lawmakers showed up, since the event happened to coincide with House floor debates on a major anti-abortion bill.
Republican Presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) sent her legislative assistant Renee Doyle to the event to promote the mandatory ultrasound bill Bachmann introduced last week, which would force women in the early stages of pregnancy to have a physically invasive ultrasound procedure and listen to the fetal heartbeat before they can legally consent to having an abortion.
"The beauty of this bill is that the [ultrasound] image will speak for itself, and once a mother sees the image there's an immediate connection," Doyle told the audience. "And anecdotally and statistically, you can see that a mother will choose life, and when a mother chooses life, she also, her heart changes too, and when her heart changes she becomes a proponent of life."
Some doctors who perform abortions argue that the bill is based on a false premise. Women already have the opportunity to see an ultrasound image of the fetus or listen to the heartbeat if they choose to do so, and most of them walk into the clinic knowing what an abortion means and having made up their minds about whether to have one.
"Women are completely aware that their embryos can develop into babies," Dr. Nancy Stanwood, an obstetrician and board member of the health advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, told HuffPost. "They know what it takes to be a good mother and they know when they're ready. Showing a woman the heartbeat doesn't change the situation that caused her to choose abortion in the first place."
Anti-abortion groups are now banding together to push mandatory ultrasound bills similar to Bachmann's in all 50 states, Ohio Right to Life announced on Wednesday. The Voices From the Womb tour will simultaneously be visiting schools, churches, state capitols and public events across the country to perform live ultrasounds for anyone who will watch and listen.
"We invite the pro-choice community to come out of their caves, stop believing that the world is flat and embrace modern medicine and science," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, in a statement. "Let us work together for a world in which human rights are given to all."
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that only one lawmaker showed up to the event, when there were actually three who showed up after him. Congressmen Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) spoke at the event.