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WTF Candidate #15: Transvaginal Ultrasounds as a Prerequisite for Abortion

“Neither the VA ACP, nor the National ACP, has a policy on abortion. However, we do believe that patients should not be mandated to receive any diagnostic test, especially an invasive one, as a precondition for any procedure….” -Virginia chapter of the American College of Physicians issuing its objection to the required use of transvaginal ultrasounds for abortions.

Setting the Scene for Stupidity:  Males—I want you to picture the most painful, prickliest scenario EVER involving your penis and multiply that agony by 100.  Some states have REQUIRED a woman be subjected to a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion can be performed.  In those instances, the cold, phallic-looking device with a condom placed on the end that is shoved into the female may be a form of rape.  You might be thinking, “What are you talking about, Ted?”  I’m going somewhere with this.  READ ON….

Basis for the Dishonorable Nomination:  When Republican policymakers introduce bills that would require women to submit to mandatory cylinders being forced into their vaginas regardless of medical necessity, they are reaching for power they are not entitled to, and attempting to legalize rape.

Rape is all about control – of completely dominating another person against his or her will with a foreign object.  You may not be familiar with the name Marianne Keith, but you should be—she is going to court over a hospital using the transvaginal ultrasound on her.  Marianne has filed a lawsuit against Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., claiming that a transvaginal ultrasound she received there made her feel like she “was being raped.”  Keith claimed that the hospital technician “repeatedly jammed the probe into various internal portions of [her] vagina, including her cervix….My husband and I don’t have any type of intimacy, because I don’t want anybody touching me.”

Transvaginal ultrasounds have also been used to dissuade women from having abortions.  They provide higher quality images at earlier gestational stages (a fetal heartbeat can be detected on a transvaginal ultrasound at 4 weeks contrasted with the traditional ultrasound that detects a heartbeat anywhere from 8-12 weeks).  Lawmakers throughout the Midwest and Bible Belt want women who are thinking about having an abortion to hear the heartbeat as soon as possible and see superior images of the fetus.  In short, transvaginal ultrasounds make abortion as humiliating and unobtainable as possible. 

I am reminded everyday of women’s strength, intelligence and resilience.  Linda Coleman, an Alabama state senator who fought the transvaginal ultrasound proposal in her state, pleaded, “If you look up the term rape, that’s what it is: the penetration of the vagina without the woman’s consent.”  Females—imagine a doctor saying that you need to have a penis-looking device jammed up your vagina before you can have an abortion.  How utterly wrong, inhumane and demeaning is that?  We need to unlock the traps set for women seeking abortions, rather than tighten them further.

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