Guest Post by Jeanneane Maxon, Esq.
Without a doubt, ultrasound imagery of unborn babies is powerful. As pregnancy center directors, volunteers, and leaders, we have all experienced this: A client considering abortion receives an ultrasound and God does something miraculous. The baby appears perfectly, and the parents feel more bonded with their child and choose life. I’ve even heard stories of the baby exhibiting mannerisms in an ultrasound photo similar to those of the father or mother, further tightening that mother-child bond. Recently, Facebook was flooded with a story of an unborn baby who appeared to be giving his parents a “thumbs up” in his ultrasound photo.
The natural question following such events is, if this image could make such a statement to the parents, can the center use that image to make a difference for others, or more specifically for purposes of training its staff and volunteers, or for promotional purposes? Of course, no center would publicly reveal the identity of the client, but may a center use a client's ultrasound image, with all identifying information removed, for its own training and / or promotional purposes?
The short answer is that a center should exercise an abundance of caution in this area and only display the image with the written permission of the client. But, like most legal questions, any answer is highly dependent on the facts and circumstances as well as state law.
This post is excerpted from an article originally appearing on the private, affiliate-access portion of Care Net's website. It is provided for general educational information only and does not, nor is it intended to, constitute legal advice. Likewise, the information and conclusions in this blog are highly dependent on state law. This blog is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney. Centers and other readers are strongly advised to consult with a local attorney who may have differing opinions than what is expressed in this blog post.