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That Magic Wand

June 1, 2011

For those of you who missed out on the deeper impact of the recent Texas sonogram law, let me provide some illustration. Better yet, I’ll let Mike the Mad Biologist provide them.

Transvaginal ultrasounds are mostly used in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. 88% of abortions are performed in the first trimester, with only 9.1% of all abortions being performed in weeks 11 and 12. For those of you in the cheap seats, that means that 78.9% of women who go to have an abortion will be forced to take an extra day to go into a doctor’s office, just for the privilege of having the doctor stick a wand inside their vagina and describe the contents of their uterus as though it is a magic wand that in those few moments will completely change the woman’s mind, no matter how much thinking she may have done prior to that point.

Oh, but don’t worry. There are exceptions for abortion due to rape or incest. No word yet on exactly how a doctor is supposed to verify that their patient is the victim of rape or incest. What if their patient never reported their rape to the police? Will the doctor be forced to request proof from their patient? Or worse, will the doctor be forced to request proof from the local police department? Will the patient be forced to wait until there’s an actual conviction before she is graciously permitted to have her abortion without interference from a politician? Who is going to go through the patient records to verify that every woman who claimed this exception actually was a victim? So much for that doctor/patient confidentiality thing. Never mind that 60% of rapes are never reported and that women who do report are routinely disbelieved, even fined for reporting their rape. The exception is there, so the segment of the population which is pro-life but feels kinda squicky about telling a little girl she has to carry her dad’s baby is totally mollified.

This is the reality we are currently living in. One where male politicians see no problem with telling doctors they have to insert a tool into a woman’s vagina in order to make sure she “really understands” the choice she is making. One where people talk about using abortion as a form of birth control to imply that there are women out there who stop by for an abortion every couple of months because they are too lazy to take a daily pill, never mind that even a woman in a mutually monogamous relationship using birth control every time still has a chance that she will get pregnant. One where the phrase “take some personal responsibility” is code for “keep your legs closed” with an implied “you slut.” One where people decide that because they would never have an abortion due to their personal morality, that no one else should have one either, and they will do everything in their power to take that choice away. Right up to forcing a doctor to perform an unnecessary medical test that involves shoving a magic wand into a woman’s vagina.

Are you angry yet? Why the fuck not?


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