Virginia’s House Gearing Up to ‘Probe’ Women Who Want Abortions February 16, 2012

Virginia’s House Gearing Up to ‘Probe’ Women Who Want Abortions

The Virginia House passed a bill 63-36 requiring that women who wish to have an abortion must submit to a “transvaginal ultrasound.” This would be a mandatory procedure and women would not have the right/freedom to refuse.

The ultrasound legislation would constitute an unprecedented government mandate to insert vaginal ultrasonic probes into women as part of a state-ordered effort to dissuade them from terminating pregnancies, legislative opponents noted.

“We’re talking about inside a woman’s body,” Del. Charnielle Herring, a Democrat, said in an emotional floor speech. “This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician.” The conservative Family Foundation hailed the ultrasound measure as an “update” to the state’s existing informed consent laws “with the most advanced medical technology available.”

As the author of this article wrote, “This is totally medically unnecessary invasive procedure. It serves no purpose other than to humiliate and shame women and intimidate them from choosing a legal medical procedure.”

Speaking in support of the bill, one delegate said:

“We hear the same song over there. The very tragic human notes that are often touched upon involve extreme examples,” said [Todd] Gilbert, R-Shenandoah. “But in the vast majority of these cases, these are matters of lifestyle convenience.”

Now I don’t intend to turn this into a debate on the morality of abortion because it’s been done a million times over. However, in Virginia, abortions are legal and this is clearly just the Conservative (and Christian) attempt at deterring women from going through with the procedure and, if nothing else, violating and humiliating them in the meantime. Regardless of what anyone might wonder, that is NOT an enjoyable experience for any woman. The violation of having such a procedure “forced” upon you before you experience the already extremely violating procedure of abortion is disgusting and deplorable.

Sadly, this bill is expected to pass through the Senate… nice going, Virginia.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael

    Does she have to look at it?

  • MegC

    “Probe”? Without consent? I think the word we’re all searching for is “rape.”

  • I suggest we force men who want a Viagra prescription to undergo a prostate exam. It’s only fair. 

  • Anonymous

    Has anyone noticed that it appears to be mostly (all) men that are mandating and passing these laws?  How many of the 63 were women?  And why would they vote away their rights to something that is a legal procedure that is not forced on anyone?

  • Guest

    This is government-sanctioned rape. How anyone could consider themselves a moral person after supporting this bill is beyond my comprehension.

  • Anonymous

    It can’t be said often enough that the Republican Party is deeply hostile to women.

  • Anonymous
  • No. I live in Virginia and have heard a lot about this. The woman is absolutely not required to look. 

  • Why?

  • Anonymous

    You are right, but may I suggest a slight improvement to your phrasing? It’s government-MANDATED rape.

  • We hope so, otherwise it is a pointless excercise. Also, what is the law on doctors, may they refuse to do the procedure in the state?

  • “We’re talking about inside a woman’s body,” Yes, and we’re talking potentially taking a baby apart. It is a serious procedure, all should be done to make sure the woman knows exactly what she’s engaging in. Would be silly to play ignorant or hide the truth.

  • Anonymous

    “Lifestyle convenience”? I would like to come up with a well-reasoned retort to Rep. Gilbert’s suggestion that it is abortions are only demanded by irresponsible sluts who didn’t have the good sense to wait until marriage to procreate like their heavenly father wants them to. At the moment, however, my mental faculties are being overwhelmed by the desire to break something. 

  • Anonymous

    Because it makes about as much sense as forcing women to have a transvaginal ultrasound.

  •  Most men who ask for Viagra prescriptions are older and are more at risk for prostate cancer. Makes more sense than this bill does, actually.

  • Anonymous

    Think goose and gander 🙂

  • So a woman is forced to undergo and uncomfortable, unnecessary and expensive medical procedure AGAINST HER WILL to get an abortion? How could this possibly be constitutional?

  • Anonymous

    A digital exam or a PSA (don’t know if that would count under you proposal) seems like it wouldn’t do enough to protect men.  I would recommend a colonoscopy  before a 30 day supply of ED medication is given or renewed.  Sex can be strenuous so we must assure that men are up to it you know  in the vast majority of these cases, these are matters of lifestyle convenience.

  • Anonymous

    same reason as having women get a 
    transvaginal ultrasound, none.

  • Annie

    They aren’t even trying to pretend that there is some medical validity to this procedure.  These are sick, sick people.

    Does the bill propose who will pay for this unnecessary, invasive procedure? 

  • Anonymous

    Nice move by her.

    In reading that article, it appears the mandatory vaginal ultrasound bill was sponsored by a woman:

    Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County), the sponsor of the mandatory ultrasound bill…


  • LifeinTraffic

    This was passed in conjunction with a “personhood” bill that no one found out about–even Planned Parenthood–until the day it passed the House of Delegates. It went to the Senate almost immediately, and was passed there in short order. All it lacks is the Governor’s signature. Those of us opposed had literally no time to effectively make our voices heard, though we certainly tried (my husband started a quite a noise on his campus, myself and many friends spent hours on the phone and on social media, etc.). Polls show a majority of Virginians oppose both of these measures, but we have no say in the matter. If the Gov signs them, and he’s already said he’ll sign the ultrasound bill, the best we can do is wait for the next election and hope to vote them out.

    Regardless of someone’s stance on abortion, I don’t see how they can think it’s fine to allow personal (and largely religious) doctrine to dictate a woman have unnecessary, invasive medical procedures in order to obtain a legal medical procedure. Or to limit FDA approved medications of any kind. If nothing else, because of the “slippery slope” argument.  Despite the conservatives assurances that this wouldn’t disallow birth control in the state, they shot down an amendment to assure exactly that.

    I have no idea what is going to happen in the net days, weeks, and months; but, as a woman, and as a secularist, I am pretty sure it’s going to violate my rights and those of other women in the state. It’s terrifying. That isn’t an overstatement for me. We can’t move for at least a year–will I be a criminal in that time, because some religious person thinks they,and their skydaddy, have more rights over my body than I do?

  • Ashley Bone

    The FBI’s definition of rape is “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

    Since consent is taken away from women by this bill, this is clearly state-sponsored rape.

    Also note that the Virginia House passed HB1, the “personhood” bill.

  • Anonymous

    Took me a second to figure our what you were saying.  You’re failing a trolling

  • This is a fucking lie.  It has nothing to do with informing women.  It’s an attempt to frighten, traumatize, or shame them into changing their minds.

    It’s just like the mandatory script in Indiana, which requires doctors to misrepresent the risks by making them say that potential complications of abortion include death while completely leaving out the fact that continuing the pregnancy and giving birth has a much higher maternal mortality rate than abortion. That, too, was done under the pretense of “informing” women.

  • LifeinTraffic

    Absolutely agree. Want to know what’s being said about it here, in the state? They’re saying it’s not, because it’s the woman’s choice to have an abortion, therefore she’s consenting to the “medically relevant” procedures required. Hence, not rape. A local radio show (disclosure: I live near Liberty U, so I realize I may be hearing the worst of it) said there was no difference in that and a woman agreeing to her pap smear.

    It’s abominable.

  • LifeinTraffic

    Yeah, I was really bummed (but obviously not surprised) to hear it was shot down. Apparently the men couldn’t (wouldn’t?) see the parallel.

  • LifeinTraffic

    As far as I know, doctors would be legally required to perform the intra-vaginal ultrasound, even in cases of rape. Because a woman who’s been brutally raped clearly needs to have yet another violation of her vagina before she can make an “informed decision” about her life.

  • Guest

    A blob of cells on a computer screen is not going to change the situation or circumstances that lead a person to seek an abortion. 

  • Gus Snarp

    These people are so desperate to make the real world just like Leave it to Beaver that they’re willing to take medical decisions away from doctors and patients and put them in the hands of politicians, but they still claim to be supporters of “liberty”. I’m ashamed to live in a country where such men can hold high elective office.

    As an aside, I looked up the two men (always men, damn it) running for the Democratic nomination for the my local House seat, and one is anti-abortion, while the other holds some bizarre strict constructionist view of the Constitution under which the government does not have the right to prevent school prayer. Neither one should be nominated to call themselves a Democrat.

  • SweetRenin

    I’m sorry, are you seriously suggesting there is some validity to this law?!

  • LifeinTraffic

    Yep. Her or her insurance. The procedure runs, roughly, about $400-600, I am told by a physician friend.

  • Anonymous

    A pap smear? That’s a high level of delusion.

  • Rwlawoffice

    A similar law passed in Texas however, there was no need for a vaginal ultrasound. The doctor is to perform an ultrasound and describe what he sees and a monitor to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.  It passed a constitutional challenge and was found not to violate the constitution by the 5th circuit court of appeals. 

  •  I’d suggest a nice swabbing for STI’s- that way they are still protecting women and, from what I hear,  a good swabbing is worse than a prostate exam.

  • Anonymous

    Also note that the Virginia House passed HB1, the “personhood” bill

    And let’s not forget that Virginia is also the state that not only doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage OR civil unions, but also passed an amendment that “establishes a section that explicitly prevents the government from recognizing the legal status of any relationships outside of heterosexual marriage. Though paragraph one of the amendment specifically bans same-sex marriage, paragraph two prevents the government from recognizing the legal status of any relationship of unmarried individuals that would in anyway approximate marriage.

    Lovely place.

  • LifeinTraffic

    Yeah, it is. To me, this is like saying someone having open-heart surgery must donate a kidney to have the procedure done, and because they consent to have the open heart surgery, then their consent for the kidney donation is implicit, and so not a violation.

  • Michael

    I had a hunch that they wouldn’t. It’s the kind of law that just begs for another layer of absurdity to be added to it.

  • LifeinTraffic

    To be fair, short of doing it Clockwork Orange style, I am not sure how you could make a woman look. I am not at all sure about this, but I suspect there will a form that she has to sign saying the procedure was done and that the woman was shown or given the opportunity to look.

  • Anonymous

    It’s worth nothing that they rejected an amendment that would have given the alternative of an external ultrasound if it could provide the same kind of information.  That means that the Republicans explicitly wanted women and girls requiring an abortion to be vaginally penetrated, even if there was no medical reason for doing so and less invasive alternatives.

    Now, I’ve been thinking about the word “rape”. It is an extreme word, to be sure. It’s true that sometimes these procedures are a part of getting an abortion because of medical requirements. However it’s one thing to have this done because it’s a medically neccesary step and quite another to have this done knowing that it’s only happening because lawmakers whose religion tells them you are a murderer want you to feel shame and fear at it. Sort of the difference between being cut open in an apendicitis and being randomly stabbed in the leg during the same operation because some jackass thinks the appendix is sacred. One is a medical procedure, the other is assault. Women forced to submit to vaginal penetration purely as an expression of disapproval of their choices are being assaulted.

  • Michael

    They would do it by withholding the abortion until she’s confirmed as having looked.

    No it wouldn’t affect the fact that it’s a dumb law, just how many different types of dumb it is.

  • Annie

    So I assume the woman would be paying out of pocket.  Even if abortions are covered on a woman’s health insurance, insurance companies could easily deny coverage of this added procedure  since there is no medical reason for it. 

    I’m ready to scream…

  • LifeinTraffic

    Well, it’s not just VA. Oklahoma’s senate JUST passed there personhood bill, and it is seemingly even worse than ours (still researching this). It goes to it’s House shortly, where it’s expected to pass with flying colors.

  • LifeinTraffic

    Pretty much, yes. Meaning that, once again, poor women are likely to be the most affected. Those without the least means to fight for their rights, to have access to good medical care anyway, now have one more obstacle the rich don’t face.

  • LifeinTraffic

    *with the least means. Sorry.

  • Gus Snarp

    You hit the nail on the head. The decision to undergo a medical procedure should be made by doctors and patients on a case by case basis, not by politicians who simply want to make it as unpleasant as they possibly can to have a perfectly legal procedure.

  • Why does this remind me of witch hunts in the old days, in which the accused was made to pay for her own incarceration and provisions during that time?

    Some days I really wish global warming would just hurry it the hell up and get it done with.

  • Anonymous

    “otherwise it is a pointless excercise” What do you mean ‘otherwise’?

  • Is there a “Dislike because it’s horseshit” button?

    We’re talking about potentially destroying fewer living organisms than when you sneeze into a tissue.

    Are you honestly blind enough, or outright stupid enough, to think that a woman doesn’t already know what she’s engaging in?  “Oh, you mean abortion is terminating a pregnancy so I don’t have to commit a minimum of 20 years of my life to a life other than my own?  I HAD NO IDEA!”

  • Ha ha.  “Otherwise” it’s a pointless exercise.  I see what you did there.

  • Psyguy

    Surely any physician with an ounce of morality and ethics would decline to carry out the procedure where there was no medical reason to carry it out? Or are all Virginia doctors taodies of government?

  • Psyguy


  • Anonymous

    Since this is a pretty cut-and-dried example of religious bullsh- erm, I mean “faith” interfering in affairs of state, I think that the state of Virginia should being collecting back taxes on churches and use that money to fund this procedure.  Certainly the church administrators wouldn’t mind paying taxes for such a “worthy” cause, right?  Right?

  • Anonymous

    Government mandated sexual abuse…disgusting…what further sickens  me is the fact that this is stemming from the Christian Right—you know, the people who claim the moral high ground…Enough is enough, we need to separate religion from politics in a serious way in this country.

  • Pvshastab
  • Marguerite

    I’m a lifelong Virginian, and I was horrified when I found out about this, and the “personhood” bill. The “personhood” bill is even more disturbing, as it is probably intended to  ban the use of the Pill.

    I am not feeling very proud about being a Virginian right now *sighs*.

  • LifeinTraffic

    As a transplanted Virginian, I share your horror. Equally terrifying is the silence and swiftness with which these bills went through. There has been almost no coverage of these bills here, and there was none at all prior to the passage through the House.

     Not that I voted for these idiots, but I will say that this isn’t the platform they ran on. They campaigned on jobs, on the economy…they’ve done nothing for either, but boy do they have time and resources to push their religious agenda. I can only hope the people who voted them in will have the good sense to vote them out.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I just wrote to my state Senator about this.  Not that it will affect anything, because he is already strongly on our side.   

  • Rwlawoffice

     “We’re talking about potentially destroying fewer living organisms than when you sneeze into a tissue.”

    What  a sad way to view a life.

  • LifeinTraffic

    I wrote my delegate and senator both, as well. Like you, it’s not going to make a difference. Unfortunately, in my case it’s because they’re both staunchly anti-choice, conservative, fundamentalist and evangelical Christian Republicans. I did write Gov. McDonnel, though he’s already pledged to sign the ultrasound bill. He’s remained quiet on what he’ll do about the personhood bill, but I suspect the only reason he’d considering veto would be concern that it may harm his chances at his well-known ambition to be a VP candidate either this Presidential election or next. Though, with the way this country feels like it’s being dragged back into the Middle Ages, by next election it might be points in his favor if he does sign it, I suppose.

  • Thackerie

     You know what’s really sad? People who apparently view women as nothing more than walking uteri and who support mandatory child bearing.

  • Anonymous

     Still not a bad idea. Contacting your reps and senators is useful even if you already approve of their position. Constituent correspondence is a way politicians judge just how passionate their voters are about a given issue. If they get all the emails/letters from one side (say, the side angry you are opposing vaginally assaulting women for wanting an abortion) they may assume that the other side is indifferent or at least not as passionate about it. If voters make sure their representative knows that they are VERY passionate about an issue, their rep will make sure that he or she is also very passionate about the issue.

  • The government of VA is mandating medically unnecessary, unconstitutional vaginal probes, and yet you only muster outrage when someone states a biological fact?  THAT is sad.

  • LifeinTraffic

    I agree. Also, it’s worth calling, too. It’s harder to ignore someone on the phone than it is an email. You’ll likely need to call your rep’s Richmond offices right now (assuming you’re somewhere not Richmond).

  • Thackerie

     Just did. Thanks for the link!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for beating me to it — I was hoping I wouldn’t be the only one frothing at the mouth over that. Right. The majority of abortions are due to women who just can’t be arsed to have a filthy brat underfoot. You know, I have to wonder why we continue to have representatives who IN NO FUCKING WAY represent anything relevant to the everyday life of the average citizen. These are people who are so far removed from our reality that it’s a wonder that they stay tethered to the planet itself.

  • Anonymous

    In the words of the Enlightened George Carlin, “The Catholic church alone could wipe out the federal budget deficit if all you did was tax them on their real estate holdings!”

  • Seladora

    I foresee a lot of women taking it into their own hands to have an abortion, injuring or killing themselves in the process. 
    I’d certainly be upset by this if I were a woman in Virginia. 

    So if I get raped, I have to go through a “government-mandated rape” process (good analogy, above comments) in order to have a DESIRED operation to get rid of the “child” in me?  What bullshit. It’s MY body. If the doctors aren’t willing to help me, hell, I’d do it myself. I don’t want a god-given rape-baby. And that’s the mentality some women are going to take. 

  • Venture Free McGee

    By that logic, holding a gun to a woman’s head and telling her she can have sex with you or be shot isn’t rape. After all, she had the option to refuse and decided to have sex instead.

  • You mean Government-mandated god-given gifts, right?  That’s how we are supposed to refer to non-consensual contact brought about by the woman’s hussy dress and sinful actions.   If she didn’t want to be probed, she shouldn’t have worn that flimsy hospital gown.  I mean her butt was just hang out of it.  

  • Karl

    Reminds me too much of the “virginity checks” forced on women protesters in the Arab Spring demonstrations in Egypt.

  • Anonymous

    If anyone is interested in how a swing state like Virginia which voted for Obama in 2008 can do such a thing, here  is the story: Virginia Democrats made a deal with Virginia Republicans. They would allow gerrymandering to give the Republicans control of the House of Delegates if the Republicans would allow gerrymandering to give the Democrats control of the State Senate. This plan was agreed upon and passed. Unfortunately this past November, things did not go as planned. The Virginia Democrats did not do a good job finding serious candidates to run for office and focused on too few races. This meant that the Republicans picked up two seats which split the senate equally between the two parties. This gave the Republican Lieutenant

    Governor the tie breaking vote. Since the Virginia state senate does not have filibuster ability, this means that, except for the budget, the Republicans now control the entire state government. It will stay that way at least until the 2013 Governor’s race. So despite being a moderate state, Virginia will be the center of many hard core right wing votes for the next two years. Let’s hope that we can at least use this to motivate the people to come out and vote this November and next.

  • Cmdavis961

    I am an outraged Virginia resident who sent an email when this bill was first being debated to my recently elected state legislator (a male republican) and received the standard “go pound sand because there’s no way I’m voting against this bill” response.

  • There is no other way to state this than what it is.

    Virginia has mandated state-sponsored rape by medical proxy.

  • Gkeyt

    Not required to look. Just required to allow a stranger to force a cold ultrasound probe into her vagina against her will. How very fucking magnanimous.

  • Anonymous

    “What a sad way to view life.”

    You might have a point …. perhaps we should require a full sinus flush before buying tissues.

  • MariaO

    I sense that most in this thread do not know first-hand about this procedure. I do. I had this done to me for reasons not connected to procreation – its unfortunately a good way of seeing some parts of the whole general misch-masch. And I can asure you it is very uncomfortable (read painful), deeply embarrasing, and generally horrible. Those who compare it with a pap-smear are comparing twisting your ankle with breaking your leg. This law is so horrible I lack words!

  • I’m going to ask my gynecologist to refuse to conduct such exams.  If she refuses, I’ll find a new gynecologist.

    If you live in Virginia, please join me in encouraging physicians to stand up for the rights of their patients. 

  • Neil

    You are making an ownership claim on a woman’s body, and claiming a place in her reproductive choices.  You are advocating that a woman be raped with a foreign object so that she will take your concerns seriously.  If you were not blinded by your disgusting hatred of women,  you would realize that you are advocating rape and slavery.  For your mother, daughter, sister, friends….rape and slavery, personal bondage to a fascist theocratic government with the power to jail you for disobeying.  Many of these same people also want to be able to punish women as murderers if they do have an abortion.  They’ve tried before, and they WILL try again. 

    You, and all of those supporting this bill, are a real and direct threat to women’s freedom as human beings.  As such, it would not be against my moral code to go to war against you and the rest of your ilk.   I only lack enough people who feel as strongly.  I often hear conservatives talking about the need for another civil war, and I’m starting to think that they have a point.  A quater million supporters of slavery went to an early grave for their efforts 150 years ago, and apparently, it wasn’t near enough. 

    I know I probably sound extreme, and I know I”m in for a whole lot of criticism, even from those who don’t really disagree,  and that many here will probably distance themselves from these opinions so as to not look like a crazy zealot.   But when I think about these issues, I just don’t understand how people can live with it and try to honestly debate people who are claiming to own the nation’s women.  They are the zealots, and they are a real threat. 

    Think about it….really try to see it from the point of view of a privileged man who is used to his freedom, and wants it to be the norm for everyone.  If anything comparable happened regarding men’s sexuality, it would likely never be enforced, and I believe there would be copious bloodshed if it were enforced.  I think that everybody else knows this too.  So why do we accept it for women, and act as if there is anything worth debating?  Only because the oppression of women has been historically normalized.  It’s time to stop debating and DEMAND.  This freedom of reproductive choice should not be a male privilege, but a basic human right.

    I guess it’s a sign of my male privilege showing, but I’m deadly serious….no man would put up with this, and nobody would expect us to.  Nobody should expect such obedience from women either, and my greatest wish is that more women, and the men who respect them, will join together to fight this tyranny.  Debate, yes.  Protest, yes.  But if that still isn’t enough, then by whatever means necessary.   

  • Neil

    Any support for any restrictions on abortion, is viewing women as group property, period.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Why are clumps of cells more important than constitutionally protected citizens?

  • LeftSidePositive

    Women forced to submit to vaginal penetration purely as an expression of disapproval of their choices are being assaulted.

    Quoted for truth!!

    Very well said.

  • MichaelnotTchristian

    I say:  Jam Baseball Bats into the asses of all the men who voted for this!!!!

  • MichaelnotTchristian

    BOYCOTT Virginia!!!!!!

  • Scotthalley11

    I am a woman, I do not view myself or any others of my gender as property. However, a fetus is a bit more than a clump of cells by the time clinical abortion becomes an option. Therefore the womans rights to her body do not extend to having complete control over another human being, i.e. the one in her uterus. I’m sure you would agree if a woman is 9 months pregnant and could give birth any day it would be wrong for her to abort the baby. Thus, at least that restriction on abortion is warranted, right? Restrictions on abortion are not necessarily an assault on woman’s rights.

  • Virginia was already up there on my “List of Shitty Places to Be”, so I’m not all that surprised.

  • Anonymous

    I think he means “if the already-troubled patient isn’t arm-twisted into another christian-invented guilt-trip by being forced to look at THE POOR INNOCENT BABY!  OHHHHH NOOOOOO! that she’s going to *gasp* MURRRRRRDURRRRRRRR with this horrible evil satanist atheist scientist gay-ist liberalist medical procedure!”

    It feels really twisted to say, but I think I’d like to see some really, really spiteful abortion patients jerk the rug out from under this whole charade by willingly acquiescing to this, staring dead-on at the ultrasound monitor, pointing out and commenting on visible anatomical components of the developing embryo/fetus, and then saying “Okay, doc, we done here?  Let’s make with the abortin’.”

    It sounds like something out of one of those stupid “scare ’em back to Jeezus” videos, one of those “if atheists ruled the world” strawman tracts, but boy would it kill the belief that guilt trips work on abortion-seeking women.

    It’s shit like this that makes me want not just federally-legalized abortions, but federally-legalized LATE TERM abortions.  Just as a slap in the face to fundie-fascist sexist motherfuckers like this who would see 1/2 the population of humanity oppressed and subjugated for kicks.  See how they like federally-legalized day-before-the-due-date abortions.  Oh, no, am I making the baby Jesus cry?  Maybe you assholes shouldn’t have played body-nazi with pregnant women then.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Yes, she has the absolute right to control the other human being who is IN HER UTERUS.  If someone is in your HOUSE without your consent, you damn well have the right to shoot them, so why should we tolerate an intruder in our bodies?

    Don’t use the perfectly-health-nine-month-old-fetus strawman.  It’s bullshit and you know it. The vast majority of abortions happen before the embryo has a brain, and later abortions generally happen because of undetected pregnancy, fatal fetal anomalies, maternal health needs, etc., etc.  Trying to restrict later abortions will do NOTHING to solve the desperate and deadly situations in which women need late-term abortion, and will put people with medical need in a desperate situation and they will not have access to medical care in an emergency.

    I remember a case study some years ago of a woman whose very wanted pregnancy had polyhydramnios and other anomalies incompatible with life.  She had to wait FOR DAYS swollen and in so much pain that she couldn’t walk, while the hospital ethics committee debated what to do with her body.  How could you think it is acceptable to put another human being through that?

    Do you also think women should be forced to undergo C-sections or placed under hospital arrest if she differs with her doctors on the plan of treatment for her pregnancy?

    Bodily autonomy matters.  People who don’t want to be pregnant fix the situation as soon as they can.  People generally don’t freely gestate for 9 months unless they really want to, and restricting people doesn’t save any of your imaginary healthy babies, and creates horrible suffering for women with difficult pregnancies.

  • stellaluna

    FYI-A digital exam is not a Prostate Specific Antigen test.  That’s a blood test.

  • Scotthalley11

    First of all, you seem to have misunderstood what I said, I was using a statement that most people agree with: that a nine month developed but not born fetus was indeed a person in it’s own right. I was not suggesting that all abortions occur at this time, I’m fairly familiar with statistics and understand that this is frankly not true. I meant for Neil to acknowledge the fact that it is wrong at a certain point (what this point may be we may disagree on) to terminate a pregnancy because the fetus is now enough of a person to deserve protection. I repeat, I was not saying that the opposing argument was that 9 month old healthy fetuses should be able to be aborted. Simply making the point that personhood begins at some point before birth.

    There is a big difference between a malicious intruder in your house and a fetus growing in your uterus, namely that the malicious intruder has willfully entered your house, whereas a fetus has no choice in the matter, additionally in order to intrude, one must have existed outside of a place in order to intrude. Semantics aside, there’s a big difference between a willful choice and the only means of your existence. (Additionally, you do not have the right to shoot someone for simply being in your house, legally or morally, think toddler or mentally ill person who may have wandered in accidentally.)

    No, I do not think that doctors should be the only ones involved in decisions regarding any pregnancy. Actually, I don’t think doctors should be involved at all in most pregnancies, however, given that the pregnancy poses a medical risk to the mother or baby, medical help is necessary. But the final decision on most of those matters lies with the mother.

    Do you agree with the nine month developed healthy fetus being a person and therefore should be protected by law? That would have been a better way to phrase that the first time. I was just trying to establish some comment ground.

  • Demonhype

     Don’t give them any ideas.  I wouldn’t put it past them.

  • Demonhype

     That would  be late-term abortion, troll.  Early term abortion involves a blob of cells, and there is no “baby” to take apart.

    Why do these people always seem to think that once the egg and sperm meet, there is some fully-formed widdle tiny pweshus baby that just increases in size over nine months?  Or at least, that’s how they seem to understand it, what with all their smugly uninformed or misinformed ramblings.

  • Demonhype

     Thank you for such an excellent take-down of that view!

    No stats on hand, but I recall reading somewhere that even in places where it is legal to abort for any reason up to the last day of pregnancy women still choose late-term abortion only for medical reasons and abortions for unwanted pregnancies still get done in the early term.  Women, contrary to popular mostly right-wing christian opinion, are not stupid chunks of warm meat intended solely for incubating the poor wee widdle iddy-biddy babies.  They are fully capable of making their own decisions, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who, given the opportunity to freely choose without delaying tactics, would choose to abort in the last term just for “kicks”.  I understand late-term has more significant risks too, so can any of these people explain to me why a woman would choose a more invasive, more expensive, and more risky abortion nine months later for an unwanted pregnancy if they can have a less expensive, less invasive, and less risky abortion right now?  They never can, which is why they resort to the emotionally-charged lies and strawmen.

  • LeftSidePositive

    No, I do not believe a fetus should be “protected by law,” because the only time a fetus’s protection would be relevant would be AT THE EXPENSE OF THE WOMAN.  Anything else would be protecting THE WOMAN by law.  When you talk about protecting a fetus you are by definition talking about stripping rights away from women.

    A woman does not give up her rights to her body just because she is pregnant.  The vast majority of late-term pregnant women want what’s best for their future children, so you don’t need to police their bodies.And, seriously, what is the point of “the only means of your existence”???  Why the fuck am I obligated to sacrifice my body to help someone exist?  Why do I owe them existence? If they don’t exist yet, what stake do they have?You don’t get to have it both ways about the moral value of a fetus–it can’t be a person with full moral rights and yet absolved of all moral responsibility for the harms it is causing to others.  Moreover, it’s not like abortion is done with any animus toward or retribution for the fetus–it’s not about “punishing” a fetus, it’s just about protecting an autonomous agent from unwanted harm.You are NOT showing common ground.  You are trying to interfere in women’s lives, and you need to stop.  I don’t need to find any fucking common ground about MY AUTONOMY.  You are trying to set up women with life-threatening illnesses and futile pregnancies as sacrificial lambs so you can beat your chest about “protecting fetuses” at the expense of people in desperate medical need.

  • Demonhype

     Kind of like “look, Brisol Palin didn’t have an abortion, and she’s just fine!”  Well, there’s kind of a world of difference between the daughter of a rich white republican politician and a poor girl living in the ghetto, isn’t there?  Or even the former and an average girl?  Or “look at how Sarah Palin didn’t abort a pregnancy when she found out it would be [I don’t know the PC term, so feel free to help me out, but retarded?]”  Well, I’m pretty sure that kids with those issues cost quite a bit of money, due to the special education and the increased health risks, all of which are lifelong as the child will never be able to be fully autonomous, which can bankrupt an ordinary family.  Let’s not pretend little Bristol or Ms. Sarah have any idea what those situations mean for the average, non-rich and in many cases non-white citizens of the country.

    Oh, wait, I forgot.  They’ll just fall back on “well, the slut should have thought about it.”

    Words cannot describe how much I hate these people.  I’m starting to come around to Neil’s way of thinking.  Once a tyrant has taken too much ground, there may not be a nice peaceful way to deal with them.  And you can’t negotiate with someone who has invaded your country by force and is declaring some special right to dictate what goes on in it–which is what these people are  doing to millions of women’s private bodies, turning their flesh into public property over which they have absolutely no power, which is even worse.  When you’re being invaded by authoritarians who come to conquer and control  you absolutely, it’s futile to just sit there going  “um, hi, if it’s not too much trouble could you maybe not do that, please?”  Get real, they’re not interested in negotiation, and these people have no interest in making  sure women get “informed” (otherwise, there would be an equal mandate to inform women that pregnancy carried to term has a higher rate of mortality and risk than abortion).  They want to force women into the roles they feel Jesus has delineated for them, nothing more.

  • Demonhype

    When will people learn?  Every single Republican is a liar.  Maybe there was a time when they weren’t, but that isn’t the case anymore.  They know damn well what’s important to people, they use it to manipulate votes, then turn around and ignore that issue while fighting their petty little “I hates when wimmenz haz sex without gettin’ preggers!” issues.

  • Demonhype

     Me too!  Thanks!

  • Demonhype

     Yet more evidence that they aren’t concerned with women making informed choices or with genuinely reducing pregnancies.  What they want is to punish women who have sex in the God-mandated way, by pregnancy and subsequent poverty, pariah-hood, and deprivation of opportunities or by bleeding to death in a back-alley from an illegal abortion, like the “trash they are” (which is how one anti-choicer said it in front of me as a child in Catholic school, I shit you not.)    If they were concerned about reducing pregnancy, as has been said again and again, they would support wider and easier access to contraception.  No, this is about forcing everyone, especially women, to mold their lives according to fundamentalist Christian dogma regarding sex (for starters).

  • Demonhype

     Problem is that “dead sluts” are a feature and not a bug to these monsters.

  • LifeinTraffic

    Exactly this. They don’t care (clearly) if women die (as evidenced by their direct attack on any facility that offers abortions in VA.Yep, more religiously-motivated social legislation is already being passed through to make performing abortion outside a hospital practicably illegal, and many of our hospitals won’t perform them at all unless the life of the mother is at stake). Women aren’t people.  Women who would have an abortion are below “not people,” and all the way to “great, one less problem” if they die. Their answer will be that a woman made her choice, so deserved what she gets.

  • Anonymous


  • Rwlawoffice

    The way some of you talk about unborn children is literally frightening. The only reason you are able to be here to say it is because your mother didn’t view you as a blob of cells or an intruder in her body that needed to be expelled.  You should consider yourself luckier then those whose mothers thought differently. Unfortunately, those need others to stand up for their rights. I understand you don’t think they have rights, but it is the only class of knowingly innocent victims of someone else’s choices that people like you think should not be protected.

  • Rwlawoffice

    “The vast majority of abortions happen before the embryo has a brain, and
    later abortions generally happen because of undetected pregnancy, fatal
    fetal anomalies, maternal health needs, etc., etc.”

    That is simply not true.  Over 80% of abortions occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with 60% occurring around 9 weeks. The baby has a functioning heart with its own blood type within 20 days and brain activity within 40 days.

    So if the lack of brain activity is a sign of death, logically the presence of brain activity should be seen as a sign of life.  

  • Alchemist

    I’m going to do something I have never done before and thought I never would. I’m going to talk openly about having an abortion.
    I’m a woman, obviously, mother to two lovely children (twins). When I was 22 I fell pregnant accidentally.
    I made the very difficult choice to have an abortion. It was one of the most awful experiences of my life despite the fact that I live in secular country where abortion is treated as a medical procedure, a matter that concerns only the woman in question and the medical staff who will attend her.
    I was required to have an external ultra-sound. It’s only sensible really, abortion carries a risk to the mother and these risks are best assessed by this non-intrusive procedure. The ultra-sound is also used to determine the age of the foetus as abortions can only be carried out on demand  here up to 12 weeks, after which special authority must be sort from the ministry of health. This is not due to some moral requirement, only that such terminations carry a much higher risk.
    To be honest I really don’t know how the NZ public would react to abortions being regularly carried out at a later stage of pregnancy, it’s not a public discussion that we have had as a nation. So, 12 weeks it is.
    Apart from an abdominal ultra-sound the only other legal requirement for an abortion was one meeting with a councillor (who works at the clinic) just to ensure that the woman knows what is going to happen, is capable of making the choice and is not doing so under undue pressure.
    Despite all this that day is one I will NEVER forget. I do not mean to say I look back with regret because I don’t. I don’t mean to say that I look back with a feeling of shame because I don’t. I look back and see a difficult day, a difficult few months, but a necessary day. I do not feel guilt, and I don’t think I should.
    The idea that any woman should have to go through a penetrative procedure that serves no medical purpose before having to go through what I went through both breaks my heart and turns my stomach at the same time. I find it difficult to comprehend a society that so under values women and their right to sovereignty over her own body. A society that would tolerate such vile hatred of women, because that is what this is. It is hatred of women, it’s a hatred of a woman’s human rights. This is another way that conservative, religious men, (and let’s face facts, it’s mainly men and they are mainly religious), seek to control women and their reproduction, because way down deep there is a little voice that still whispers  “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. … Thy husband … shall rule over thee.” Genesis  3:16
    And that’s exactly the way they like it.

  • Alchemist

    I too have had the internal probe ultra-sound, many times, while pregnant with my twins and you are 100% right! It is painful, it’s pushing directly and bloody firmly against the cervix. It’s not at all like a pap smear, think cervix check in labour, the ones you have to pant through.
     It’s embarrassing to boot. Is it not enough that you’ve already had your doctor perform an internal, and in order to actually get the abortion yet another doctor will be at work up there, along with his whole team of assistants? Must we really expose ourselves to another complete stranger for no particular reason too? Add in the ultra-sound assistant and you might as well sell tickets and pop it up on the big screen.
    This is an intensely personal time, making the choice, it’s not like a woman is unaware of what she is choosing.
    Why do conservative, predominately christian men so often believe that women are incapable of making desicions without their “guidance” or permission?

  • amyc

    I’m from Texas. I know (personally) a couple of doctors who won’t actually do it, they just have the woman sign a form.

  • amyc

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  • LifeinTraffic

    This isn’t about abortion being right or wrong. You think it’s immoral? Fine. Fight against that. THIS isn’t about THAT.

    THIS issue is about forcing a woman to be vaginally penetrated for no medical reason to get a 100% legal procedure.  How is forcing one moral act on top of another act you consider immoral okay?

    If I decided that hysterectomies to treat cancer were immoral because it’s “against God’s Will” or whatever, would it be okay for me to insist a person has an endoscopy performed to show her the uterus to be removed, even though there’s no medical reason to do so?

    Look, you may not like that abortions are legal. And that’s your right. But you should be mad as hell that someone is forcing completely unnecessary vaginal penetration on a women just to receive a completely LEGAL medical procedure. Once you open that door–the door where legislators can dictate medical care and procedures based on no medical need but purely on their own ethics–you’re opening a door to all kinds of things you probably haven’t stopped to think about, but that you definitely should.

    Separation of Church and State isn’t just for secular people. It’s just as much for  religious people. Because someday, somewhere, the people in power may not agree with your religion. And the you’ll be very, very glad someone stood up and fought so you could keep practicing it. While you stood on the sidelines and cheered as the rights of others were violated.

  • LifeinTraffic

    *one immoral act on top of another immoral act.

    Sorry, I hate disqus–It’s hard to edit when it gets this small.

  • LifeinTraffic

    I keep forgetting to post this, but even if abortion was just “lifestyle convenience” (and I realize just how incredibly awful and out-of-touch that statement really is, trust me), it’s still a LEGAL procedure. Lots of things are lifestyle conveniences: breast augmentation after a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery after burns or an accident, vasectomies. That doesn’t make it okay to require completely medically irrelevant, expensive, invasive procedures in order to obtain any of these completely legal medical procedures. And, no one would ever suggest we should.

    Even people who disagree with abortion, even people who are so stupid as to claim it’s a “lifestyle convenience,” should still be mortified that our legislature has mandated a 100% unnecessary, invasive, expensive, medically irrelevant procedure in order to obtain a perfectly legal one. Not to mention they intentionally picked the most violating way to do it (vaginal penetration), when another option was presented. They shuts the alternate option down, and let’s be very clear about this:

    because they wanted women vaginally penetrated for no valid medical reason.

    It sets a precedent that I can’t believe anyone would be okay with, regardless of what they think of abortion.

  •  It is not true that brain activity begins at 40 days, and I can tell you the exact origins of this myth.  In the 1960s, a Dr. Hamlin wrote an OPINION paper arguing that we should define death based on brain activity instead of cardiac activity.  In this opinion paper, he cited research done in Japan, and he got the major facts of it wrong.  (PS: The fact that pro-life sites get their information from opinion papers instead of going directly to the research is telling about their concern for truth.)

    The research in Japan was conducted on aborted 90 day old fetuses, and basically stated that if you jab an EEG probe through the skull of an aborted fetus, you get a reading.  It never determined if the reading was brain activity, or if it was artifactal.  (Fun fact: EEGs are so sensitive to interference that if you hook a person up to an EEG and an IV at the same time, you will see an EEG spike every time the IV drips.)

    Dr. Hamlin misquoted research done on 90 day old fetuses as being done on 40 day old fetuses, and misinterpreted the results as brain activity.  Modern studies have found that the very earliest you can get the sleep spindles and other patterns that indicate actual brain activity don’t occur until after 120 days gestation, and even then they have to be drug-induced.

    IT IS NOT TRUE that brain activity starts at 40 days gestation. 

  • Mairianna

    No…no!  A prostate exam is not invasive enough!  They should have to have a catheter inserted in their penis!   That’s more in line with the humiliation of having a vaginal probe inserted in a vagina.

  • Anonymous

    Since crap like this is getting slammed into law so quickly with little to no public debate or even the remotest nod to the personal liberty it destroys I hope that just as swiftly those in those states who are opposed, organize and appeal it by every legal means available.  This is an outrage and it is human rights violation sanctioned by the state.  This is not constitutional. 

  • Anonymously

    You are not alone, my dear.  I had an abortion when I was 32.  Sharing your story is courageous and necessary for people to understand.  I was married, but my marriage was miserable and my (ex)husband couldn’t keep a job.  We lived far from any family members and I dreaded trying to work full time and raise a child (and a husband) on my own.  On top of it, I had some medical issues that made me easily fatigued.  I didn’t have the physical energy to raise a child.  It was a heart-breaking decision, but one that I knew was right for me AND the child.  The nurses and doctors at the abortion clinic were some of the kindest and most caring people I have ever met.  They knew my decision was not an easy one but they never judged me.   The judgment actually came from the staff at my OB/GYN’s office (all women).  They made it very clear that I had done a bad bad thing because, (sarcasm) oh, don’t they just LOVE babies.  They are SO adorable.  Yeah, that’s ALL that counts – Let’s have a baby because they are cute.  (sarcasm end)  Like you, I look back and see a difficult day, a difficult few months, but a necessary day.  No regrets, no guilt.  As I look back, my life had many more years of difficulty even after that.  It was the right decision for me. 

  • Rwlawoffice

     Please understand that with this question I am not judging you in any way but I am curious about one comment you made in your post and was curious.  You mention that the abortion was the best thing for the child.  How is ending its life the best thing for the child? I understand the hardships you were facing but, if everyone was healthy, why would not adoption be the better choice for the child?

  • Uadztai

    As a woman in Virginia (and an atheist, though that doesn’t matter much on this topic), I’m outraged at this legislation.

    And if you all think this is backward and medieval…have a gander at the “personhood” legislation our House just pushed through.

    I am truly at a loss for words.

  • Neil

    I believe that you are, quite simply, fundamentally wrong on every level.  A woman does not owe society or the fetus (or the father, or the government) any more consideration in her reproductive choices than she is freely willing to give.  If society and the father are treating the woman as a free human being and not asking unreasonable things of the woman, the vast majority of women will give their views some merit, but force is never justified.   That you claim to not view yourself as property when you are treated as such, is simply due to the fact that you have been conditioned to not see the glaring inequities in society which are badly justified by the happenstance of sexual biology, but which also serve to take away your freedom and hand it to those who think they know better than you and should be allowed to control the most intimate, personal aspects of your life.

    Feel free explain to me why the only person deeply, personally involved with the pregancy should not have absolute control over that pregnancy, when any other option requires a serious reduction in her freedom and the involvement of people with no personal stake or responsibility in the pregnancy .  The woman is the only person taking a substantial risk with a pregnancy.  She is the only one whose time and energy are required.  She is the only one whom can be hurt or killed by a pregnancy.  She is the only one who will ever really be  responsible for the well-being of the fetus and the consequences of the pregnancy.  She is the only one with a real interest in whether or not she reproduces.  Why should this choice EVER be given to anybody else?  There is no compelling government interest in forcing childbirth, as the human race is not dying out.  Men have the ability to reproduce literally hundreds of times in their lives, why should they get any measure of legal control over every woman they happen to conceive with?   And who the hell are you to tell another woman when she must reproduce?  The only sane place to leave that choice is exactly where it is and has always truly  been- with the mother.         

    Your nine-month-fetus example is ridiculous in any part of the abortion debate.  You say you are trying to find some common ground, but you fail  miserably for several reasons. 

     First, it’s simply dishonest…9th month abortions are incredibly rare, and I have never once heard of somebody having one as birth control, because of a last-minute change of mind, or out of spite.  Restrictions on late-term abortions don’t  save a single fetus, and  only serve to restrict and harm women making a difficult medical choice.   Such regulations do more to kill women than save fetuses.  You are simply trying to look at this issue in terms of a sliding scale of rights, where in fact there is none.  There may be a sliding scale of inconvenience, risk, or pain to the woman, but any restriction is still just a completely unnecessary intrusion that serves only to disempower women and hand their choices to others. 

    Second, I still disagree anyway, even if I accept your idea of a “reasonable” restriction.  Even if there were large numbers of crazy women having 9th month abortions to spite their husbands(which there never will be), I would rather let a few fetuses of such people die than introduce intrusion in to all women’s choices.  Cry about it all you want, but I would not value a few fetuses over the health and  freedom of tens of millions of women, even if it were a real issue, which it isn’t.   While I might think it was irrational and even morally wrong to abort a healthy 9th month fetus(depending on many different circumstances which you and I have no way to know about), I am not willing to pretend that I have the authority or the interest in placing hurdles that could easily hurt real women, just to save some hypothetical fetuses.   It’s simply not my decision to make in any way, and as a rational adult, I accept that.  

    If you were to get over your irrational fears and your irrational sense of entitlement to other people’s bodies, you might be able to accept it as well.


  • LifeinTraffic

    Right there with you, Uadztai. 

  • Nehaprasad92

    Well, I was discussing this with my mother (an OBGYN surgeon), and whilst she does not agree with their REASONS behind this, she says normally they have to ultrasound before they do an abortion to date the foetus/thing/it, so that they can use the most suitable method. But just my two cents, I think the reasons why they are enforcing this on women is wrong.

  • kaydenpat

    Lawsuit?  This foolish law is ripe to be subjected to a legal challenge.

  • LifeinTraffic

    Oh, dear dog. I just had an anti-choicer (who, of course, calls herself “pro-life, despite  being fine with abortion in cases of rape, incest, or molestation–because apparently she alone gets to determine when life is important, but another women can’t do the same) tell me that if just half of the 47 million abortions in the US had been carried to term, we wouldn’t be in debt to China, because those people would be good, working citizens.

    She wasn’t kidding. This wasn’t a joke. Neither was her “abortions give people breast cancer!” remark, though it’s been soundly put to rest that no, they don’t (just as a spontaneous abortion doesn’t increase the risk; but, somehow these people cling to the idea that  it’s only “God” aborting the fetus that it doesn’t result in breast cancer). They believe Roe v Wade was liberal legalizing abortion (instead of about medical privacy and making sure you get to decide what medical procedures to have, as opposed to your husband, for example).

    Judging from the rhetoric here, these beliefs are pretty main-stream here in VA, and no one really sees a problem with mandating unecessary medical procedures as long as they feel that a legal procedure is “immoral.” They just can’t seem to work out the logical extension that makes it a hugely bad precedent. They cling to “but it will save teh bayyybeez!”, even when it’s proven over and over that ultrasounds do not diminish abortion rates. They still insist on abstinence as the only education, even that what is proven to work is easy and inexpensive access to good contraception and quality education (of all types, not just sex ed). They Will. Not. See. It. I can’t even go into the rest of the crazy here, the misinformation, the it-has-to-be-intentional misunderstanding of law.

    You cannot reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into. I am exhausted, I am headed to a protest tomorrow, and I hope many, many others will join me. Because dealing with crazy takes a lot of energy, and those of us in this fight could really use the help.

  • LifeinTraffic

    In very heartening news, our Governor has had a change of heart, and is refusing to sign the ultrasound bill as-is. He’s requesting changes, but there is a shot that this ridiculous game of politics is going to end with the bill dying entirely. The Senate sponsor of the bill, Jull Vogel, has said she will withdraw the bill if rules allow her to do so at this stage.

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