Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Thursday proposed legislation that would require mothers to have ultrasounds performed and be shown pictures of their unborn child before an abortion could be conducted.
Bachmann said her bill, the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, is based on the notion that mothers who are undecided about having an abortion, but who then view pictures of their unborn children, are far less likely to go through with the procedure.
"A study by Focus on the Family found that when women who were undecided about having an abortion were shown an ultrasound image of the baby, 78 percent chose life," Bachmann said. "My legislation will not only enable this technology to be better used to protect life, but also to ensure that a woman who is considering abortion is finally able to give full and informed consent."
The Minnesota Republican's poll numbers have taken a beating ever since Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race. Bachmann won August's straw poll of conservatives in Ames, Iowa, but has seen her support drop to single digits in some recent polls.
Under her bill, women seeking abortions could not give doctors informed consent to have the procedure done until after they are shown ultrasound pictures of their unborn child. The bill also requires that ultrasound pictures meet certain quality standards, including that they "accurately portray the presence of external members and internal organs, if present."
The bill also requires doctors to capture the sound of the unborn child's heartbeat and play that sound to the mother, if the pregnancy is advanced enough to capture this sound. But again, the bill specifies that mothers would be allowed not to listen to these sounds as they are played.
Bachmann's legislation sets out penalties as high as $100,000 for failing to adhere to these rules for a first offense, and $250,000 for repeat offenders.