Undaunted by public outcry against Virginia's mandatory ultrasound law, lawmakers in several other states have taken up the mantle of solving their respective stomping grounds' whatever crises by restricting how much choice and control a woman has over her body. Here's a little breakdown of the shit sandwiches your legislators have made just for you.
In Florida, America's wang of opportunity and fountain of footage for Cops, the State House is currently wasting taxpayer money on passing a bill that will probably fail in the Senate. HB 277 would require any woman seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours after having an ultrasound to have the procedure, like many other states have crappily done before it. But Florida's provision goes further — in a move blatantly targeted to destroy Planned Parenthood in the state, HB 277 would also require all clinics providing abortion services to be doctor-owned (unlike clinics in the state that provide any other services, which can be owned by any old person. Including the state's governor, a non-doctor who himself owns several clinics). And! And, and and! Florida's bill would require any procedure that occurs after 20 weeks to involve administering anesthesia to the fetus, even though it's never been scientifically established that fetuses at that stage in development are capable of feeling pain. Doctors must additionally undergo three hours of special ethics training per year and collect an excessive amount of data on each procedure, including patient age, race, gestational age of the fetus, number of previous live births, marital status, previous number of abortions, and hometown, which could feasibly be used to identify individual women. Small government!
Georgia, not to be outdone by its southern neighbor, has a stinker of a law advancing through its legislature as well. House Bill 954 would outright ban abortions after 20 weeks unless they threatened the life or health of the mother on the false assumption that fetuses can feel pain at that point in gestation. Opponents argue that in some cases, this will force women to carry stillborn fetuses to term. Proponents say yeah, but babies. The bill passed the State House on Wednesday.
Debate on a truly awful bit of Pennsylvania legislation has been postponed indefinitely, thanks to a group of doctors who protested the measure. The bill would have required women to receive an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, and instructed doctors to place the viewing screen in the field of vision of the woman. Graciously, the law would have allowed the woman to look away if she wished. The bill would have required the technician performing the procedure to indicate in writing whether or not the woman looked at the image or refused, just so the State could have a record of what a evil whore she was (Suggestion: a woman who looked at the image could be rated AW- average whorishness, whereas one who did not could have her name added to the List of Women to be Stoned to Death once Biblical Law Resumes file that Rick Santorum keeps in his basement). The law would have required transvaginal ultrasounds for women receiving abortions too early in the pregnancy to successfully capture an image using an abdominal device. The Pennsylvania Medical Society wrote a strongly worded letter to state lawmakers, warning them that legislating diagnostic procedure to medical professionals was not a thing that legislators should be doing with their time. They caved, and a vote on the measure's been indefinitely delayed.
Speaking of transvaginal ultrasounds, how're things going down there in Virginia? Last week, state lawmakers famously backed off on a provision similar to Pennsylvanias that would have required transvaginal (or, in the words of famously unfuckable Republican Dave Albo, "trans-v") ultrasounds for many women seeking abortions. The law that eventually passed and is now headed for Republican governor Bob McDonnell's desk still requires ultrasounds before abortion, but now there's an exception written into the law that would give rape and incest victims an out, but only if they reported the crime to the police. It's still a pretty fucking stupid law, even though the government is no longer requiring women in Virginia to have a medical wand inserted into them by doctors.
Similar backpedaling is occurring in Alabama, where a proposal mighty similar to Virginia's is now in jeopardy. The measure, proposed by an eerily Kenneth the Page-like Republican named Clay Scofield, would have required women to view sonogram images before receiving an abortion and, yes, would also have required trans-vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking to terminate early in their pregnancies. The bill passed out of committee 4-1, but once the Republican governor caught wind of what was going on, he balked. Within a day, Scofield promised to change the bill, promising to let women pick what kind of ultrasound they wanted before having an abortion. Ooh, I pick anal. Is there an anal option?
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a Personhood bill defining life's beginning at conception rather than birth has passed the State Senate. Even though the bill's framers insist that it wasn't designed to outlaw abortion, a new proposed amendment to the state's constitution is. Personhood USA, that plucky group of zealots who can't take a hint, is now on a signature drive to get a Personhood amendment on the November ballot. They have 90 days to collect more than 150,000 signatures. Good luck with that, knuckleheads.
So, ladies, there's some good news in all of this, and some bad news. The good news is that men across the country care deeply about what's going on in your uterus. The bad news is most human uteruses are too small to fit entire state legislatures inside, although they're certainly trying.
Image by Jim Cooke.