Last week, the Oklahoma Legislature overrode the governor's veto and enacted a law that puts a horrifying twist on informed consent requirements for women seeking abortion. While other states require that women seeking abortion be offered an ultrasound, this law requires that the woman have either an abdominal or a vaginal ultrasound, whichever offers the clearer picture, as a condition of having an abortion. For almost all women having first trimester abortions, the transvaginal ultrasound will offer a clearer picture.
Dr. Dana Stone, a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, wrote on Alternet:
Neither the patient nor the doctor can decide which type of ultrasound to use, and the patient cannot opt out of the ultrasound and still have the procedure. In effect, then, the legislature has mandated that a woman have an instrument placed in her vagina for no medical benefit. The law makes no exception for victims of rape and incest.I don't know whether the consequences of this law will be worse for abortion availability than some of the others that are threatening clinic operations around the country by imposing unnecessarily stringent, hospital-level standards on out-patient clinics, but it is one of the most stomach-churning requirements I have ever seen. They are willing to physically violate and humiliate women who are determined to have an abortion and willing to use the threat of that humiliation to try to dissuade women from having a legal medical procedure. Even the normally distressing commenters at Salon's Broadsheet understood that this is just wrong. As one so aptly said, isn't there a word for sticking something in a woman's vagina against her free and uncoerced will?
Yes, there is. Thank you, Oklahoma Legislature, for mandating medical rape.
I would like to believe this law would be found unconstitutional. I know of no other situation in which a patient would be refused the ability to turn down a medically unnecessary procedure. But with our current Supreme Court, I fear we soon will be told this is a necessary measure to protect women from themselves.