[Here's a guest post from @deaniemills about Texas's state-sanctioned rape *law* and her personal experience in having a transvaginal sonogram. I emphasize "law" because it is already being enforced. -ABLxx]
According to a law passed by a Tea-Bagger Texas statehouse and signed as an “emergency measure” by Governor Rick Perry, and mis-presented to the public at the time the bill was passed, along with the 5th Circuit’s decision that this procedure CAN proceed even as the law itself is being appealed–women can now be legally raped in the state of Texas if they see a physician about getting an abortion.
By “rape,” I mean that the sonogram which is required by this law for all women seeking abortions in the first 10 weeks–which nearly all women now do–is not a “jelly on the belly” procedure, as State Rep. Carol Alvarado pointed out, in which you take off your clothes, put on a flimsy gown, climb up onto a cold table, have some colder jelly smeared on your stomach, and then wait while a technician or doctor rolls the wand around and interprets the picture that appears on the computer screen.
At the time this bill was being debated and passed, the Texas media simply reported that women would be required to get a sonogram if they wanted an abortion. As a Texas woman, I wasn’t pleased about that but I wasn’t rendered apoplectic the way I was today when I found out that the sonogram which is required is actually a “TRANS-VAGINAL” procedure.
I have had a trans-vaginal sonogram. My gynecologist requested it when, during a pelvic exam and yearly pap smear, she thought she might have encountered a uterine tumor, and we needed to find out for sure. Of course, I agreed. In a trans-vaginal sonogram, first of all, you have to go without urinating for hours in advance so that the image is more clear. This is extremely uncomfortable. It means that you have to show up at the hospital, take off your clothes, put on a flimsy gown, and climb up onto the table while, at the same time, urgently feeling the need to urinate.
Then, they shove that sonogram wand UP YOUR VAGINA and dig it around in there while you try frantically not to pee on the technician. It is painful. It is uncomfortable. It is embarrassing. In my case, I had a male technician, and a female nurse did not accompany him into the sonogram room. Now, I must say that he was incredibly kind and very professional, but it was a STRANGE MAN who was sticking a COLD WAND up into my vagina and poking it around inside of me while he looked at the computerized images on the screen and I ground my teeth to keep from wetting myself.
“The law establishes new ways to shame and humiliate women,” said Karen Hildebrand, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, West Texas,” but does nothing to protect women and teens from unintended pregnancies.”
Let’s say you are a 13 year old girl and you were raped by your uncle. You and your parents agree that an abortion is the best thing for your situation. YOU HAVE TO BE SUBJECTED TO YET ANOTHER FOREIGN OBJECT BEING SHOVED UP YOUR VAGINA–possibly by a strange man.
Even if your reason for getting an abortion is not related to rape or incest–let’s say you have been, at one time in your past, a victim of rape yourself. Let’s say that, in the attack, the rapist shoved a beer bottle or a broom handle up your vagina as part of the attack. NOW, you are being forced to have a plastic bottle-like object poked into your vagina AGAIN.
As to the matter of cost. DOES THE STATE PAY? I can’t find an answer to that question with a cursory Google-search, but if they DON’T, then what do you do if you do not have health insurance?
If you live in the state of Texas, where a full 25% of the public do not have health insurance, the odds are good that, should you be subjected to this medically unnecessary procedure against your will and without your consent (which meets the definition of rape), you will have to pay hundreds of dollars because it is considered an outpatient surgical procedure, since you have to have it done at a hospital.
So…let’s say they are triumphant! You decide not to have the abortion. DOES THE STATE OF TEXAS GIVE A FLYING DAMN WHAT HAPPENS TO THAT BABY ONCE IT EXITS YOUR WOMB?
The state of Texas, which insisted that abstinence-only be taught in sex-education classes at the high school and junior high level, has ONE OF THE HIGHEST RATES OF TEEN PREGNANCY IN THE COUNTRY.
It has one of the lowest rates of CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE in the state. It has one of the highest rates of poverty, the highest rates of minimum-wage jobs that do not provide health insurance benefits and do not support a family, and one of the lowest standards of education in the country.
The Republican statehouse that insisted on ramming through this obscenity of a law, also slashed the state’s budget for WIC–Women’s, Infants, and Children’s nutritional programs, food stamps, Aid to Dependent Children, Children’s Health Insurance, and Medicaid–all programs which are designed to help pregnant women and young mothers.
Rick Perry was so damned and determined to show that he had balanced the state’s budget when he launched his doomed presidential race that he forced through massive budget cuts in areas that could ill afford it, plunging MILLIONS into premature poverty–including many, many mothers of young children.
Most of the jobs he likes to brag were created in his state are minimum-wage jobs, so if a mother wants to support her children and can’t find a decent job, she must work two or three minimum-wage jobs to feed her family, and who provides child care? Not the state, which slashed that budget as well.
So, WHAT IF SHE WANTS TO PREVENT AN UNPLANNED PREGNANCY in the first place? Shouldn’t that make all those so-called “PRO-LIFERS” happy? Not if she can’t afford hundreds for a visit to the OB/GYN and birth control pills or devices. Her only option is to go to Planned Parenthood for her women’s reproductive health needs–her pap smears, STD tests, pregnancy tests, birth control, and PRE-NATAL CARE.
But Gov. Perry, aided and abetted by the sanctimonious, self-righteous Republicans in the statehouse, CLOSED PLANNED PARENTHOOD CLINICS all over the state and have vowed to eventually close them all.
It’s just a matter of time before these religious zealots close in on various forms of birth control as well as abortions–already, pharmacists who have religious views against birth control do not have to fill prescriptions for birth control pills, and more and more evangelicals are considering birth control itself to be against the laws of God. As one spokesman from the World Congress of Families put it, “American evangelicals have unwittingly traded the Virgin Mary for Margaret Sanger.”
REALLY? So, if you take the Pill, you are desecrating the VIRGIN MARY???
At least one evangelical Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, has already vowed that, if elected president, he will outlaw federal funding for birth control, and several of them, including Mitt Romney, have supported various “Personhood” amendments, which state that any effort to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to a womb wall, such as IUD devices or some birth control pills, are considered on par with abortion and are banned in that state.
One of my Facebook friends described this as “religious persecution.” When you think about it, that’s exactly what it is. A small minority of far-right evangelical Christians have rammed through an obscene violation of a woman’s privacy between herself and her physician in the most intimate of ways, and if allowed to continue, will eventually ban even a woman’s right to prevent pregnancy.
Because this law in Texas and other states does not stop with having a wand shoved up a woman’s vagina–AGAINST HER WILL AND WITHOUT HER CONSENT–no. The doctor THEN has to force her to listen to his or her description of what he or she is seeing on the computer screen, force her to listen to the heartbeat if there is one, and then, there are scripted remarks he or she is required to say.
Doctors have challenged this in court. God forbid we infringe on a doctor’s paternalistic relationship with his or her patient. Lower courts have ruled that they don’t have to say what the Republican statehouse demands.
But they still have to DO it. Women, they say, don’t have to listen. I’d like to know how that could be. A noisy iPhone and earphones, perhaps? She lies there, naked and vulnerable, her legs spread, a technician’s hand up her vagina, and somehow she’s not supposed to listen to remarks scripted for the guy by Republicans in the state capitol.
So that she can obtain a CONSTITUTIONALLY LEGAL PROCEDURE.
It is an OBSCENITY. It is a VIOLATION. It is STATE-SANCTIONED RAPE.
Women in this state and others who have rammed through or are considering such a measure should RISE UP AND BE HEARD. They should FIGHT BACK. And for the love of God, VOTE.
ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, AND SOMETIMES, THEY CAN RESULT IN YOUR HAVING SOMETHING SHOVED UP YOUR VAGINA AGAINST YOUR WILL AND WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT.
Vote Democratic and stop this madness and misogyny.
[via Deanie's Blue Inkblots]