The unexpected social impact of ultrasound

When considering the long-term impact of ultrasound imaging, one does not typically think of one of the most socially divisive issues facing America today: abortion. However, ultrasound imaging permanently changed the abortion debate by allowing people to physically see the fetus, a development that was quickly mobilized by pro-life activists.

“Real-time ultrasound became a standard part of prenatal treatment in the early 1980s. Almost as soon as it did, opponents of abortion enlisted it in their cause,” wrote Moira Weigel of The Atlantic. “It became an article of faith that women would respond to seeing ultrasound images by “recognizing” that the fetus gestating inside them was a “baby”—and, by extension, that abortion would be murder.”

Fast forward to the present day—and the ultrasound is deeply integrated into the experience of pregnancy. Expectant mothers post ultrasound images on social media, and online stores such as Etsy offer themed frames for commemoration of that first glimpse of the fetus.

Regardless of your opinion on the issue, ultrasound plays a fascinating role in the development of the modern debate. Read more about the societal impact by by following the link below: