Honest Defenders of Forced Penetration

So far, it’s been a little odd to read defenses of the bill—passed by the Virginia House of Delegates last week—to require “trans-vaginal ultrasounds” for women seeking abortions. Supporters conscious of public opinion argue that it is strictly a means to provide information and guarantee the safety of the mother. “The only way that they can determine the age of the fetus at an early age is by performing a trans-vaginal ultrasound,” said Delegate Kathy J. Byron, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored the House version of the legislation.

This, of course, isn’t the point. Whether or not a trans-vaginal ultrasound is medically necessary is separate from the fact that this is an involuntary procedure, forced by the state, and performed for political reasons. The issue here is consent, and the simple fact is that the state should not be allowed to stick something inside your body for the sake of preventing a legal and legitimate medical procedure. This doesn’t come as a big surprise, but it’s been the most right-wing members of the Virginia legislature who have been honest about their intentions:

Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican who plans to vote for the bill, contends that the argument does not ring true because the abortion itself is far more invasive.

“The intrusion is already taking place,” he said.

In other words, once you’ve been penetrated, you are fair game for anyone who comes along, including the government.

The good news is that Virginians aren’t nearly this extreme; according to a recent poll by Christopher Newport University and the Richmond Times Dispatch, 55 percent of Virginians say they oppose the measure, while 36 percent support it. The bad news, unfortunately, is that this bill still stands a fair chance of passing.


It is absurd to even suggest that this proposed law has anything to do with the health and safety of the mother. For very good reasons best medical practice is not a matter of state law. Doctors decide a million times a day what procedures are necessary for their patients. And medical practice changes constantly as new medicine, technology, and procedures are developed and more information is gathered about standard practices. Even if Virginia lawmakers were all the best doctors in the country, laws could hardly keep up with changes.

Is it just by accident that the Virginia Legislature is suddenly desirous to legislate best medical practice for abortions? Perhaps next week they will suddenly decide to legislate blood tests before gall bladder surgery?

The sole purpose of the trans-vaginal ultrasound is to make abortions even more unpleasant than they already are, and hence to discourage them.

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