When you want to know what screwball scheme to make people's lives a misery the Republicans are about to roll out across the nation, look no further than the Indiana State legislature, where the state senate advanced a bill yesterday that would "require women to undergo an ultrasound procedure both before and after having a medication-induced abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy." That would be one mandatory vaginal ultrasound before the abortion, and one mandatory vaginal ultrasound after the abortion.
The bill, introduced by state Sen. Travis Holdman (R), imposes heavy regulations on clinics and physicians that offer medication abortions, which are generally used to end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks from a woman's last period. It would require women to be presented with the sound and image of the fetal heartbeat before the abortion and to return for a follow-up ultrasound to ensure that she is no longer pregnant and has stopped bleeding.Nevertheless, the Health and Provider Services Committee in the Republican-controlled state senate passed the bill out of committee 7-5, so it's going up for a full vote in the state senate.
Dr. Anne Davis, the consulting medical director for Physicians for Reproductive Health, said the requirement would place an undue burden on women seeking to end their pregnancies. "She can do a blood test at any local facility after an abortion to show that the hormone levels are going down as they should, there's no medical reason to make her drive back to the abortion clinic and go through another ultrasound," she said. "This is yet another onerous, medically unnecessary barrier."
Both ultrasounds, abortion physicians explain, would likely have to be performed with a transvaginal probe, since medication abortions usually occur too early in the pregnancy for the external "jelly-on-the-belly" procedure to provide a clear image. Davis said that transvaginal ultrasounds are the "standard procedure" used for first-trimester abortions and that they can be "physically or emotionally uncomfortable." Requiring two of these ultrasounds, she said, would be medically unnecessary, and would make abortion access more difficult for poor and rural women who cannot get time off work, need to make childcare arrangements and have long distances to drive.
But don't go thinking that Indiana Republicans are just trying to discourage and punish women and other people with uteri from exercising their reproductive rights! OH HEAVENS NO! Our old friend Sue Swayze, legislative director of Indiana Right to Life, explained on local radio that the "goal of the bill is to protect women's safety and hold abortion clinics to higher health standards." See? Don't you feel better? They're just looking out for us.
Swazye also took a moment to explain why she does not find compelling our silly arguments about consent vs. coercion:
She said she does not understand why it would be a problem to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds.That would be fucking hilarious if it weren't one of the grossest things I've ever heard. I guess I can't object to anything ever entering my vagina again, since I've consented to a penis being in there!
"I got pregnant vaginally," she said. "Something else could come in my vagina for a medical test that wouldn't be that intrusive to me. So I find that argument a little ridiculous."
[H/T to Jordan.]