Why do pro-choice activists oppose mandatory ultrasounds? They don't prevent women from having abortions; if a woman initially requests an abortion but then declines after seeing an ultrasound, doesn't that mean her initial request was not informed?
The ultrasound procedure in the first trimester is likely not what you envision with the gel and the paddles on the belly. During the first trimester, an ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina to get an image. Especially if the woman is pregnant as a result of rape, but even otherwise, this can be a traumatic experience in itself, especially if the woman doesn’t want to receive the ultrasound in the first place.
It’s also worth noting that ultrasounds are not zero-cost activities. Requiring an ultrasound adds cost and additional time to the procedure.
The other flaw in your question is that you assume the ultrasound will change the woman’s mind about the pregnancy. I don’t have any statistics, but I’m guessing it’s not a significant factor in deciding whether to continue the pregnancy.¹
- I would guess that emotional pressure from an anti-abortion counselor would be more likely to have an impact than merely seeing the ultrasound. This, of course, feeds into your question about the consent being informed: if someone can be talked into changing their mind, does that mean that their consent is uninformed? What if they change their mind again?
If it's mandatory before an abortion, obviously it makes abortion one step more difficult to obtain. And also it's a psychological pressure for would-be mother: "see, your child has a face already, look again".
Also I'd argue that some ultrasounds may be disliked by pro-life activists, because if an ultrasound elucidates Down syndrome in a fetus, it's a prime target for abortion a few days later.
There are very good reason to take an ultrasound before abortion using abortion-pills, as if the pregnancy unknowingly is in the tubes rather than the uterus - or even worse, on the outside of the womb (yeah, can apparently happen) - the abortion-pill will cause severe bleeding.
However when an ultrasound gets mandated by law, it's not to make sure an abortion is safe, but to force the pregnant woman to hear a heartbeat (even when it's technically before there even is a heart) or see the fetus (in glorious high-definition 3d rendering by special sonogram-machine) 1) - all in the hope to manipulate her to change her mind, and keep the baby.
- Such 3d sonogram-machines are very popular with "fake" "abortion consultants" setting up shop near actual abortion providers by Christian groups to lure women seeking abortion in, an try to stall them until it's too late in the pregnancy.
Information verus plea to emotion
Aside, from the obvious excellent answer already given on the invasive nature of transvaginal ultrasounds, I think the premise of the question is flawed: there is a difference between information and emotion. You don't inform someone when you're moving them to act on emotion.
If I ask you if you would sacrifice a child to save 100 children, most would say yes. It's rational consequentialism. However, if I asked you if you would sacrifice your own child (or a child you knew) to save 100 children, you'd likely say no. This isn't because you're more informed having known the child to be sacrificed, it's because you're acting on emotion. Emotions operate to obstruct reason.
That's fundamentally what's happening here, and that's the desired effect. No one is arguing that the mother of the fetus is being irrational by desiring a pregnancy or abortion. You're not informing her. You're making an emotional plea. Many pro-choice advocates argue that this emotional plea is not in the woman's best interest.