The Virginia legislature has passed a law that requires all women seeking an abortion to be given an ultra-sound. And people on both sides of the issue are flipping out about it.
Why? Well most abortions do occur within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, and the only type of ultra-sound that would work is a “transvaginal ultra-sound.”
It involves a probe being inserted there.
And some, like Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, argue that by almost any definition, being penetrated in this way, without consent, fits the definition of rape. And further, it is humiliating to put a woman through this, and especially egregious if she is obtaining the abortion because she was raped.
Others, like Lori Ziganto of RedState believes that Lithwick and others are “rape demagogues.” Zigato wrote an impassioned and angry retort:
As a woman who has experienced both, the equating of a transvaginal ultrasound with rape is beyond despicable. For the women, my arse.
The transvaginal ultrasound that I had when pregnant with my daughter did not cause me violent, bodily harm. It did not put me in fear for my life. It did not cause me to have to still sleep with a light on. The rape did, even to this day — 20 years later. It did not make me have to constantly plan my shopping trips to avoid the dark or suffer the fear and heart racing caused by walking alone through a dark parking lot. To this day. It did not make me introverted and fearful in social situations, convinced that everyone was staring at me. Hello, mad hair twirling!
So, one side (made up mostly of pro-choicers) argues that this is an incredibly invasive and humiliating procedure being forced on women, in part to intimidate them and to restrict abortion rights. The other (made up of pro-lifers) argues that this fits under laws protecting “informed consent” and since abortion providers almost always do an ultra-sound as preparation for the procedure, it is not a real burden to share the results with the patient.
It’s notable that the law also asks doctors to record into the patient’s permanent medical file whether they listened to the heart-beat detectable by the ultra-sound. Lithwick likens this to a Scarlet Letter.
It actually wouldn’t be the first state that discuss legislation involving transvaginal ultrasounds. Television actress Fran Drescher once campaigned to have states mandate these ultra-sounds as part of a woman’s annual medical check-up, because they often reveal medical issues missed by pap smears.
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