Pitt Debating Union to Tackle Issue of Showing Ultrasound Images to Women Considering Pregnancy Termination

Issue Date: 
February 4, 2013

The University of Pittsburgh’s William Pitt Debating Union will host a free public debate on the question, “Should a Physician Be Mandated to Perform, Show, and Explain High-Resolution Ultrasound Images of the Patient’s Pregnancy to Each Woman Presenting for Abortion Care?” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in the O’Hara Student Center Ballroom. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m.

The event is the fifth in a series of Marcella L. Finegold Memorial Public Debates and the first such debate growing out of a collaboration between the Department of Communication in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and the Pitt School of Medicine.

Ten states have passed legislation requiring ultrasounds to be performed prior to each abortion. Last year, a similar bill was approved by the Pennsylvania House Health Committee but was not taken up by the General Assembly. Proponents of the requirement contend that presentation of ultrasound images of a woman’s pregnancy should be an essential feature of the informed consent process prior to abortion. Opponents question the measure as an unnecessary and inappropriate intrusion of the state into provider-patient communication in the clinical setting. Pennsylvania State Representative Kathy Rapp (R-Warren) is currently redrafting the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” with plans to introduce the bill during the 2013-14 Pennsylvania General Assembly’s legislative session.

Arguing on the affirmative side of the question will be:

• Teresa Stanton Collett, professor of law, University of St. Thomas (Minn.) and special attorney general for Oklahoma and Kansas;

• Former Pennsylvania State Representative Jeff Coleman (R-Apollo); and

• Paras Minhas, a Pitt senior majoring in microbiology in the Dietrich School, an undergraduate debater, and Pitt 2013 Marshall Scholar and 2012 Goldwater Scholar. 

Arguing on the opposition side of the question will be:

• Nancy L. Stanwood, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences and associate clinical professor of nursing, Yale Medical School;

• Pennsylvania State Representative Matthew Bradford (D-Montgomery); and

• Victoria Julian, a Pitt junior majoring in biology and economics in the Dietrich School, and an undergraduate debater. 

Moderated by Gordon Mitchell, a professor and chair in the Pitt Department of Communication, the debaters will field questions from a panel that will include:

• Maggie Benson, chief medical resident, Pitt Internal Medicine Residency Program;

• Natasha Parekh, global health resident, Pitt Internal Medicine Residency Program;

• Rachel Rapkin, family planning fellow, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Pitt School of Medicine;

• Raul Larsen, a Pitt junior majoring in philosophy in the Dietrich School and an undergraduate debater; and

• Nathan Woodford, a Pitt junior majoring in communication and philosophy in the Dietrich School and an undergraduate debater. 

The format also allows time for questions from the audience. The debates are made possible through a generous gift from William Pitt Debating Union alumnus Marcella L. Finegold, who graduated in 1937 from Pitt’s College of Arts and Sciences, now the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. 

The debate can be viewed via a delayed webstream beginning Feb. 14 at http://mediasite.cidde.pitt.edu (scroll down to “William Pitt Debating Union” in the presentation catalog window). Parking for the event will be available at Soldiers & Sailors parking garage, Bigeow Boulevard, Oakland, and will cost $5. For more information, contact Gordon Mitchell at 412-624-1564 or gordonm@pitt.edu.