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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

 
Virginia Governor withdraws the probe

by digby

So, it looks as if Virginia's Governor has decided that he didn't want to sign a state rape bill after all. In his statement he cited the argument that no person should have their bodies invaded against their will:
Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.

Huzzah. No mandatory probe. But he's still spouting nonsense on the subject. He also said:
It is clear that in the majority of cases, a routine external, transabdominal ultrasound is sufficient to meet the bills stated purpose, that is, to determine gestational age. I have come to understand that the medical practice and standard of care currently guide physicians to use other procedures to find the gestational age of the child, when abdominal ultrasounds cannot do so. Determining gestational age is essential for legal reasons, to know the trimester of the pregnancy in order to comply with the law, and for medical reasons as well.
Doing ultrasounds to determine the gestational age for medical reasons is none of the state's business and the state has no business compelling them for legal reasons. Moreover, doing them in the first trimester in most cases would not necessarily be helpful in that endeavor --- in fact, that was the excuse these forced childbirth zealots gave for requiring the transvaginal ultrasounds in the first place: they couldn't properly reveal the fetus.

There is only one right way to do this. Leave it up to the doctor and the patient to decide what tests are medically necessary before having an abortion, period.

This is just so dumb. Everyone knows what this is really about:

Ultrasounds have been at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement for the last few years. Lawmakers have introduced mandatory ultrasound laws in an increasing number of states; activists have featured fetuses “testifying” at capitols; and anti-abortion Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) has proposed legislation to direct federal funding to crisis pregnancy centers for the purpose of purchasing ultrasound equipment.

According to the Guttmacher Institute (PDF), 19 states have some type of abortion-related ultrasound policy. In six of those states, all women wanting an abortion must first undergo an ultrasound. Last year the Texas Legislature went further than most states, not only mandating an ultrasound for every woman wanting an abortion, but forcing women to hear an explanation of the sonogram image, unless she is a victim of sexual assault or incest. Texas women who live up to 100 miles from an abortion provider have to wait at least 24 hours after they receive the ultrasound before they can get the abortion. Virginia lawmakers have also included this rule in their proposal.

At anti-abortion rallies and conferences throughout the country, leaders in the movement consistently talk about the power of ultrasounds — that they allow a pregnant woman to see a head and hear a heartbeat.

In a paper on ultrasound policy (PDF), Jeanne Monahan, the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, suggests that ultrasound examinations might result in more desired pregnancies. The paper refers to statistics from studies conducted at anti-abortion pregnancy centers to assert claims like “eight in ten pregnancy resource centers report that ‘abortion-minded’ women decide to keep their babies after seeing ultrasound images,” and “[a]ccording to an executive director of an Iowa pregnancy resource center, 90 percent of women who see their baby by ultrasound choose life.” This argument is then used in legislative language (PDF) and floor debates.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) introduced a federal mandatory sonogram bill last year and — citing the conservative policy group Focus on the Family — told Congress that “78 percent of women who see and hear the fetal heartbeat choose life.” She was later corrected by Focus on the Family, which deemed her statement “inaccurate.”

The anti-abortion group Americans United for Life has created model legislation for ultrasound policy (PDF) that, according to the organization, has influenced some of the recent state bills, including Texas’. In the model, Americans United authors assert: “[M]edical evidence indicates that women feel bonded to their children after seeing them on the ultrasound screen.” The footnote attached to this claim points to a 1983 medical study that uncovered two cases in which women in the late first or early second trimester of pregnancy reported “feelings and thoughts clearly indicating a bond of loyalty toward the fetus.”

I suppose these people have the right to try to use the state to force their moral belief system on everyone else. At least it's done frequently enough to assume it's part of the process. But forcing medical practitioners to perform superfluous tests on law abiding citizens as a political strategy goes in a direction that's too creepy to think about.


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