“You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.” ~ Hillary Clinton
Years ago, the state of Virginia had as its slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.” The commercials expounded on this theme by showing tourists enjoying themselves and the voice over saying things like beach lovers, history lovers, etc. But lately, Virginia’s elected officials have shown more and more that they are indeed not lovers of women’s rights, especially with this latest piece of proposed legislation: the bill to force any woman who wants to get an abortion to first undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.
For those of you who might not know, a transvaginal ultrasound is performed by inserting a plastic wand into a woman’s vagina. The procedure is uncomfortable and invasive. The thinking behind the bill’s supporters, I suppose, is that if a woman actually sees the ultrasound picture of the fetus, then she will be less likely to follow through with the abortion.
Let me pause here to just say Piss Off.
I have long been a proponent for reproductive rights, and I am more than a bit familiar with the anti-abortion people’s tactics. This particular one is pretty abhorrent. Don’t think so? Then just consider this particular scenario, a scenario that is not at all far-fetched:
A woman is raped. She becomes pregnant as a result of that rape. She knows that she cannot carry this pregnancy to term. Virginia now requires that this particular woman be assaulted again, that she be put in the stirrups and have yet another unwanted object inserted into her vagina, all in some attempt to convince this already victimized woman that she should take one look at the fetus and instantly fall in love with it.
I. Don’t. Think. So.
“The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.” ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I have never encountered a single woman who undertook the decision to have an abortion lightly. That is not to say that there is not that small percentage of females who have used abortion as birth control, having multiple procedures. I don’t think that you will find any person who fights for reproductive rights who will agree that this is a responsible approach to birth control.
Abortion is not easy. The decision to undergo the procedure is not easy. Far from it. And while I personally don’t believe that I could ever undergo the procedure, I will support to my dying breath any woman’s right to have a safe termination.
Let me clarify here: I am not delving into that arena of late-term abortion, which is a thicket of hot coals. I am referring to first-trimester abortions. I refuse to engage in the whole argument of personhood, or the Catholic stance that life begins at conception, meaning literally that at the instant that an oocyte encounters a strong-swimming sperm, life begins.
I have been relatively quiet about the ongoing male-driven debate about making contraception available for any woman who wishes to have it, even if she, say, happens to work for a Catholic hospital. All of the testerone-fueled chest thumping by men wearing white collars is beyond the pale. President Obama’s compromise is sound: the institutions do not have to do anything that goes against their beliefs. The contraception will be made available to the women via the insurance companies. How is this bad?
But this latest volley by the extremists is happening right here in my home state, and quite frankily, it makes me beyond irate. As we used to say back in the day of VOKAL (Virginia Organization to Keep Abortion Legal) and NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League):
KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY
Enough. Here is Jon Stewart’s segment on the issue from his February 21, 2012 show:
Punanny State: Virginia’s Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart | Comedy Central
- Virginia Is For Lovers…And State Licensed Rapists (buzzfeed.com)
- Politician Points Out How Virginia’s Mandatory Ultrasound Law Could Turn Abortion Providers Into Criminals (thefrisky.com)
- Virginia’s War on Women (keepwomenhealthy.com)
- In Case You Missed It: Open Season on Women’s Bodies (venusgenus.com)