This week, Rachel Maddow took Republicans to task, having them admit that a number of states are forcing women to have invasive transvaginal ultrasounds — but not before former US Senator Jim DeMint claimed women supported such procedures.
The exchange happened on NBC’s Meet the Press with David Gregory, and saw former Senator for South Carolina Jim DeMint, now leader of the religious conservative Heritage Foundation, blatantly and willfully invoke the Gosnell case as though it is representative of all reproductive health services.
He even went on to say women enjoy the “opportunity” of ultrasounds, as though ultrasounds weren’t an option prior to state mandating sometimes invasive and always medically unnecessary procedures.
NBC’s Rachel Maddow refused to let that oversight slide. Here’s a key snippet from the exchange:
Jim DeMint: I am glad to see that a lot of states like Texas and Arkansas begin to consider this. The more the ultrasound has become part of the law where a woman gets the opportunity to see that there is a real child its beginning to change minds and I think that is a good thing.
Rachel Maddow: Women don’t get the opportunity with ultrasound, the ultrasound bills are mandated by the state. So if a woman does not want an ultrasound, or if her doctor does not want her to have an ultrasound, if the ultrasound is not medically indicated, the state government is stepping in and saying you must have this ultrasound by order of the state government. And because of the timing in a lot of these … what is being mandated is a vaginal ultrasound. So it is an invasive vaginal forced procedure that a woman cannot say no to by order of the state government. And that is alright with you. I understand that. You feel like you have an interest strong enough to override a woman’s desire to not have that happen to her that you can insist that it does as a legislator. But most American women I think are gonna balk at that. And if you want to make that a federal issue, I say that the Democrats are gonna be delighted to have that fight but as Republicans push this further and further and further, it’s the Wendy Davis’ of the world that are going to force you to make your argument [...] .
Jim DeMint: She is forgetting about the thousands of women who want an informed choice, who want the opportunity to get a free ultrasound which they can get not from Planned Parenthood but from a lot of these pregnancy centers.
Rachel Maddow: It’s not free.
This led to fellow guest, academic and author Michael Eric Dyson exclaiming: “Thank God for Wendy Davis.”
Watch the exchange below:
The disconnect between the what anti-choice legislators and activists see as reasonable restrictions and the actual reality of forcing women to undergo invasive and unnecessary medical screenings before they can access abortion services seems to be widening to a point where it becomes virtually undeniable that views like those offered by DeMint, whatever he might otherwise say, give no consideration to the autonomy or personhood of women.
Germane to that, and what continues to be interesting, is the meme-monolith that state senator Wendy Davis has become despite the media trying its hardest to reduce her to her footwear.
Davis’ act of filibustering Texas anti-choice legislation, and refusing to back down even when Governor Rick Perry called a special session and then attempted a smidgen of patronizing character assassination in the bumbling way in which only he is capable, has made her a totem for the movement. She has become of meme of freedom and solidarity where the “I Stand With Wendy Davis” affirmation has grown into a now national refrain of “I Stand With Texas Women.”
As the pro-choice demonstrations continue, Davis has warned that the “eyes of the country” are now watching as Republicans renew their effort to ban terminations after 20 weeks and force all but five of the state’s 42 abortion clinics to close.
Davis, it should also be noted, is now being touted as a potential candidate for governor. Should that happen, anti-choice and (let’s be honest) anti-women’s freedom Republicans would find themselves having inadvertently given a platform to a powerful opponent and, moreover, having supplied fertile ground for commentators like the educated and erudite Maddow to take on the profound ignorance in statements like those DeMint is shoveling.
Moreover, when the abortion debate reaches the highest court in the land, having women like Wendy Davis as Governor of Texas, or even as a US Congresswoman, will be vital. The irony that it is the anti-choice legislators’ extreme positions that have allowed figures like Davis to rise to such prominence will, then, be lost on no one.
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