Transvaginal ultrasounds. Non-consensual vaginal probing. State-sanctioned rape. These phrases became the weapons in the latest battle of the war on women, as the Virginia Republicans’ attempt to add more onerous pre-abortion restrictions turned into a fight over the personal bodily rights of those who seek to terminate pregnancies.
According to the Washington Post, the issue turned the moment that “transvaginal ultrasound” hit the legislative floor. Bill sponsors, admitting that they had no idea that most early abortions would require a vaginal ultrasound in order to determine a fetus’s gestational age, suddenly found themselves not simply forcing women to look at pictures of their potential babies and then sit for another 24 hours to hope they change their minds. Instead, they were mandating the government literally force themselves into women’s lives, and bodies, a message that didn’t play nearly as well.
So will this public outcry effect the legislation in other states? Pennsylvania is also considering passing a mandatory ultrasound bill, and of course, legislators are now on record saying they had no idea they were forcing women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds.
Including the bill’s sponsor.
“[Rep. Rob]Kauffman said he does not believe the bill’s intent is to mandate a transvaginal procedure.
“That is how those who oppose this bill are going to try to oppose it, but I don’t believe it’s accurate,” he said. “A traditional ultrasound is the method used for this legislation. There is absolutely no requirement for the transvaginal. If nothing is found, they move on.”
Kauffman said the bill doesn’t specifically refer to either type of ultrasound because transabdominal is “the accepted method” and transvaginal “is not the accepted method.” He said he asked [Rep. Kathy] Rapp, who introduced the bill, about the possibility of a transvaginal procedure and “she said she had never heard of it.”
Keller also said he was unaware that an internal ultrasound procedure might be required under the legislation.
“I’ll have to double check that. That would cause me some concern if that’s part of it,” he said. “You’ve brought up a question that I’ll be checking with staff on the health committee.”
Iowa has already stripped the “transvaginal” requirement from their proposed ultrasound bill. And in Alabama, where the fight over whether or not a transvaginal ultrasound would be used is now hitting the capital, the Republican sponsor of the bill is claiming erroneously that an abdominal ultrasound can provide the information required from law six weeks or earlier in an attempt to avoid the “probing” blacklash (note, it can’t).
Would these politicians have rejected the bill if they knew that the ultrasound needed to be done manually? For most of them, if they could have been sure that no one called them on it, the answer is likely no. For those who believe that the right to life of an embryo, fetus, or even fertilized egg outweighs any physical or emotional trauma that a woman may experience, forcing a probing in order to try to get her to not abort would seem like nothing. After all, these are people who believe a woman should have to undergo the physical discomfort, pain, and potential complications of pregnancy, regardless of it the baby is viable, the age of the woman or girl, if she wishes to be a mother, or if she got pregnant against her will. In comparison to that, a transvaginal ultrasound is almost nothing.
But the public reaction to their stance, their unwillingness to admit that they don’t care if the means are physically invasive if it forms another roadblock, is what shocked Virginia into backing down, and can do the same in other states, just as long as the pressure remains on them to stop literally invading women’s bodies.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.