Women and men everywhere are watching in shock as lawmakers across the country compete to come up with the most outrageous and creative ways to legislate women’s bodies. Here is Pennsylvania we are making our own push with a bill on the way requiring women to look at ultrasounds of their babies prior to getting an abortion.
A similar bill in Virginia was the cause of a huge uproar after a Slate writer pointed out that most pregnancies are terminated early enough so that in order to capture a good image of a fetus, women would be compelled to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound using one of these probes. Since the procedure would be compulsive and non-voluntary, and is not medically necessary, it meets the legal definition of rape.
Virginia Governor Bob O’Donnell, probably alarmed at what the growing backlash would mean for his vice-presidential aspirations, flip-flopped and indicated he would veto the mandatory rape law. But in Pennsylvania we still might succeed where Virginia failed.
Forcing women to submit to forcible penetration is only the latest in a wave of attacks over women’s rights and women’s bodies over the past two years. Consider:
- The Komen breast cancer charity pulling their funding for breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood in a baldly political maneuver
- A congressional panel on contraception with only men allowed to testify
- A hissy fit over Catholic institutions that accept public money being required to offer employees insurance that covers contraception
- A Rick Santorum funder suggesting that women, excuse me, “gals,” should prevent pregnancy by putting an aspirin between their knees (works for STDs, too!)
- “Personhood” laws in Mississippi and Oklahoma, which grant rights to an egg the moment it is penetrated by the sperm, and could be used to outlaw contraception
- A proposed Georgia law that would criminalize miscarriages
Of course in Pennsylvania we already have decided to put prohibitive regulations on abortion clinics to ensure that prices put procedures out of reach for the poor and uninsured, if the clinics can stay in business at all. I thought the political party behind the restrictions was supposed to be against intrusive government regulations that drive up the cost of doing business?
In fact, I thought the political party in question won elections across the country in 2010 to prevent tax raises, cut government spending and create jobs. Interesting that instead we have seen a full-scale assault on women’s rights.
Never forget, women: Lawmakers know better how to deal with your uterus than you do.