Dear Editor:

In collaboration with this week's annual Right for Life Week in Washington D.C., I joined several of my colleagues from both political parties at a press conference at the state Capitol to support bipartisan legislation on the Women's Right-to-Know Act.

House Bill 1077 would provide all pregnant women across the Commonwealth the right to view an ultrasound of their babies when considering an abortion. It's no secret where I stand on this issue. The bottom line is no matter what the health care issue might be, an informed patient is always a patient who makes the best decision medically and emotionally.

During the press conference, Dr. Joseph Castelli, a Philadelphia-based OB-GYN, said under many circumstances, ultrasounds are often able to present pregnancies in a different light for patients and sometimes result in patients choosing not to terminate pregnancies. When it comes to a mother making a big decision of whether or not to keep her baby, it makes sense to use as many procedures and tests as possible for her to ensure she's making the best decision.

Beyond reducing the number of abortions performed, ultrasounds early in a woman's pregnancy also plays a key role in flagging ectopic pregnancies or abnormal pregnancies that occur outside the womb. Because a baby fetus cannot develop or survive in this type of pregnancy, ultrasounds help identify these problematic pregnancies so that a mother could undergo proper procedures to ensure the safety of her baby. A recently released annual report by the state Department of Health marked a downward trend in the number of abortions performed across Pennsylvania and Carbon County for 2010. Nearly 140 Carbon County women had abortions in 2009, compared to 100 women in 2010. I am pleased with the significant decline in the number of abortions performed on women across the state and Carbon County. Under House Bill 1077, I am confident that the number of abortions will continue to decline across the entire Commonwealth. With 112 co-sponsors from both sides of the political spectrum, the bill awaits consideration in the House Health Committee.

By Dolye Heffley

State Representative