The crusade to humiliate women takes a sinister turn

If a law currently up for vote in the Virginia House passes this week and is signed by Governor Bob McDonnell, it will require many women seeking an abortion to be raped.

No, you didn’t misread that.

The bill, which is similar to laws passed in seven other states, requires women to undergo an ultrasound procedure before an abortion is performed.  The ultrasound is not medically necessary; it has not even been rationalized as such by the bill’s defenders.  It is simply another tactic adopted by anti-abortion crusaders to humiliate women, in the hopes that they may change their mind about going through with the procedure.

But since most abortions are performed in the first trimester, and abdominal ultrasounds are not able to produce a clear image of the fetus in most cases, Virgina’s law mandates the use of transvaginal ultrasound – that is, a probe must be inserted in the women’s vagina to view the fetus.  Women cannot refuse this if they want to get an abortion, and the law does not allow for any exceptions such as rape or to protect the woman’s health.

I can’t even imagine what a rape victim who has become pregnant might think of this, after having already been violated once, and then being told by arrogant politicians that she must be violated again in order to undergo a commonly available medical procedure.  It also forces her doctor to perform a procedure that is not medically necessary, and violates their oath not to cause harm to their patient.  As one Virginia House Delegate pointed out, the bill may actually require doctors to sexually assault their patients, as it is a crime to vaginally penetrate women with any object without their consent.  (To add insult to injury, the woman must also pay for this state-mandated procedure.  Where’s Obamacare when you need it?)

It’s not even cognizant of the doctor-patient relationship that is generally so well-respected – except when women’s medical choices are involved.  Then it’s absolutely imperative that the government asserts jurisdiction over a women’s vagina, to ensure she’s actually making the best medical decisions for herself.  It’s not just humiliating; it is paternalistic in its very worst sense.

Note that I haven’t even addressed the issue of abortion itself.  That is because regardless of where one stands on abortion – if one considers it murder, or the right of a woman to make decisions regarding her own property (i.e., her body) – this intrusion by the state into private medical affairs, which would not be tolerated under virtually any other circumstances, is simply not justifiable.  And perhaps anti-abortion crusaders are aware of that, and are adopting these tactics to set up a constitutional challenge that leads to a Supreme Court review of Roe v. Wade, hopefully this time to overturn it for good.

Regardless of the anti-abortion camp’s motives, their degrading and humiliating tactics are despicable.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brian,

    While I do not like that law (government cannot legislate a society back to morality), I’ve read the Virgina law and no where did it say what type of ultrasound is necessary. While transvaginal ultrasounds in early pregnancies show more detail, there is no mandate, near as I can read, to have one. The way the law is written, any type of ultrasound will do.

    I do find it interesting how a narrative finds its way onto a libertarian website. As a libertarian, to me the better discussion is the link between government funding and government regulations on the areas funded. That’s the big picture and can be discussed in detail across all the social places government has no business in, such as education, personal health, safety, etc..

  • While your basic point has some merit, the use of the word rape strikes me as over-the-top. The abortion itself would score 10-points for “invasiveness;” a transvaginal ultrasound might rate a 4. To me, the interesting question raised here is whether the woman should be coerced/allowed(?) to see the ultrasound image. Ultrasound is already a standard part of the pre-abortion exam but the images are not usually shared with the woman.

    • Are you joking?

      The difference between the abortion and the transvaginal ultrasound is the difference between consenting sex and rape.

      And if you say something in the lines of “Well if you agree to an abortion is it really that bad to get forced to do a transvaginal ultrasound”, then that’s no different from saying “If you agree to have sex with a guy and he then rapes you on another occasion it’s really not that big of a deal”

      • No, not joking, just trying to think beyond the Planned Parenthood talking points.

        To be clear about my motives, I am pro-choice. If a woman is not sovereign over her own body, she enjoys no meaningful freedom. Also, as a libertarian, I don’t support this kind of busybody regulation.

        My objection is to the use of violent and histrionic language that implies women are inherently victims: “crusade to humiliate women,” “violate,” “rape,” and “sexual assault.”

        Let me reiterate: an ultrasound is routinely performed prior to an abortion to determine the gestational age of the fetus.

        This standard medical practice was not compared to assault until the VA legislature required that the woman be given an opportunity to view the same ultrasound image her doctor does. Isn’t this a form of disclosure?

        What if this bill is an attempt to use persuasion rather than coercion in pursuit of pro-life aims? That would be a positive development for a seemingly intractable culture war, right?