Abortion opponents have leapt to defend Virginia’s pending forced ultrasound laws, which would require many women seeking abortions to undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound, on the basis that this coercive form of penetration is no different than the (usually) consensual penetration that resulted in the pregnancy to begin with, or the more invasive procedure they’ve chosen to have. Big Journalism‘s Dana Loesch delivers a prime example of this rationale.
I’m not picking on Dana Loesch here. I’ve seen this sentiment echoed far and wide among conservatives, but hers is probably the most pointed example. From The Dana Show: (Loesch has objected to the use of this clip to fully represent her views, so feel free to read what she’s written on the subject for all that missing nuance)
Transcript: (via LGF)
That’s the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth. And in fact, this big battle that I’ve, uh, totally won with Keith Olbermann by the way, like, not only won once but twice and three times… uh, there were individuals saying, [high voice] “Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What!?
Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.
Let’s set aside, for the moment, that the Virginia measures don’t include an exception for rape, so at least some of these women did have a problem with the “trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.”
There’s a key, obvious difference between the consensual sex act that Loesch apparently refers to (and tampon use, which she also compared the procedure with), the abortion procedure they’re seeking, and Virginia’s mandated ultrasound. It’s a difference that many conservatives struggle mightily with: choice. The law of the land says that women are free to choose abortion, or not. They’re also free (for the time being) to choose what is put inside them.
Rather than judge Dana Loesch on that poor turn of phrase, though, let’s take a look at her larger point, which I think is that the ultrasound law isn’t the same as rape because it still offers women a “choice”: (emphasis mine)
Here’s the thing: no one is forcing women in Virginia to get abortions. Don’t get an abortion and you don’t have to worry about any sort of mandated ultrasound. In fact, you’re free to choose numerous forms of birth control to avoid pregnancy so as to avoid the decision of infanticide which would necessitate some form of ultrasound. Surely progressives aren’t trying to argue that government mandates pregnancy, too, or intercourse? Virginia, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a law prohibiting women’s access to birth control.
So the Virginia law boils down to a “choice” between coercion and violation. Would Loesch support a law that required women to be fingerbanged at every tollbooth? There’s as much medical and legal support for that as there is for these ultrasounds. Use county roads if you don’t like it.
Loesch also doesn’t seem to be aware that Virginia is also attempting to pass a “personhood” law that could, in fact, “prohibit women’s access” to most forms of birth control.
My friend Little Miss Attila makes a marginally more compelling argument that the bill isn’t about punishing and violating women, it’s about “bioethics,” but since abortion is legal, it’s up to doctors and patients to decide that. Any woman can choose to have the ultrasound, and any doctor can recommend it. However, to the extent that point is even debatable, these bills are completely unconcerned with “bioethics” or “informed consent,” because they don’t even require that the patient review the results of the test, at all. The only requirement is that the test be performed. The Virginia legislature doesn’t care what women get out of the law, just that they get to go in.
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