In a Friday interview with conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker defended the state’s forced ultrasounds for people who want to get abortions, calling them “just a cool thing that’s out there.” Although “in here” would be more accurate, in that the procedure in early pregnancy, when the vast majority of abortions are performed, involves an ultrasound wand being forcibly inserted into a woman’s vagina. Super cool.
In the interview, which was first reported by Right Wing Watch and which we saw via Talking Points Memo, Walker said criticisms of the mandatory ultrasound provisions were merely attacks by the “gotcha” media:
We signed a law that requires an ultrasound. The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about — my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasound pictures. It’s just a cool thing out there. We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child.
Wisconsin requires a pregnant person to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, and the abortion provider must show the image to them and describe it. Technically, that ultrasound can either be done with a transvaginal wand — which goes inside the vagina — or the less invasive transabdominal procedure (“jelly on the belly.”) But 89 percent of abortions in the United States are performed in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. That early in pregnancy, and especially before eight weeks, only a transvaginal ultrasound can detect the fetus.
As for Walker’s contention that everybody’s out here showing him fetus photos on their iPhones, one might argue that there’s a world of difference between looking at an ultrasound of a wanted pregnancy and having a foreign object inserted into your body against your will as a punitive measure to make you feel bad about needing an abortion. Not Scott Walker, obviously, but someone might.
Both the Democratic National Committee and Planned Parenthood immediately issued furious statements today arguing forced ultrasounds are not cool, which, in itself, is a very cool sentence to have to write.
““No, Scott Walker, mandatory ultrasounds aren’t ‘cool’,” said Kaylie Hanson, the DNC’s Director of Women’s Media, in a press release. “And Republican attempts to undermine women’s health aren’t ‘cool’ either.”
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Governor Walker speaking in New Orleans, May 2015. Image via AP.