By Casey Jacobson, Editor
When picturing any ultrasound for an expecting mother, I see a particularly happy pregnant woman getting ready to view the results of her growing belly. In a nutshell, all that is required is a little dab of cool jelly and a remote-like machine to move over the stomach area, right?
Apparently, I was wrong-instead, the state of Virginia plans to order doctors to perform a different process on women who are seeking an abortion. Their experience with an ultrasound is rather unpleasant. “Unpleasant” meaning equivalent to rape.
Rape is generally described as forced and nonconsensual sexual contact. This sounds a lot like the bill Bob McDonnell, governor of Virginia and potential Republican vice presidential candidate, just passed for women who want to have a constitutional abortion. Did I miss the amendment that said sexual assault was legal?
The bill’s details consist of requiring all women going through the process of abortion, without their permission, to first get a transvaginal ultrasound. Not only are these women put through an already agonizing situation, they are very generously offered to view the images of their fetus. Even if their physician does not advise this procedure, women in Virginia do not have a choice.
Although transvaginal ultrasounds are usually used to further discover if a patient has serious health risks, such as tumors or menstrual problems, Virginia’s government insists that the process is necessary in each and every instance, no matter what the health of the woman seeking treatment is.
The issue of abortion is one of the most well-debated topics that rages among today’s politics. I’m not saying that abortion is the right or wrong thing to do, but no other person should ever be able to make that judgement for someone else, let alone use a needless and bitter method along with it. Nowhere in this bill does it mention a special treatment for an impregnated rape victim. Did McDonnell ever think to consider that these victims may be further traumatized by this procedure?
To have state government pass a law that knowingly violates the female body in such a personally physical way, regardless of medical necessity, is absolutely unheard of.
“I believe [this law] is a complete infringement to a woman’s privacy. They have a right to their own body, and I personally think it’s a disgusting law that takes a huge step backwards,” sophomore Ethan Witt said. “Everyone deserves rights, especially to themselves. Women shouldn’t have to be put through such invasion just to express that right.”
The ultrasound law places women who live within 100 miles of the clinic to undergo the ultrasound and wait 24 hours after the procedure is done in order to further go through with the abortion.
Not only are women forced into the ultrasound, they also have to travel up to 100 miles and are required to wait another day, which may be more traumatic.
“We are deeply disappointed the Governor has signed a bill inserting the government between women and their physicians in one of the most personal, private medical decisions anyone can make,” said Katherine Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. “This is just another point in a dangerous trend in which politicians have ignored accepted medical advice to control women’s access to health care.”
Different reactions towards the bill have spilled over the news, making the issue of mandatory ultrasounds in the spotlight. Because abortion is one of the most controversial topics in modern politics, varied views come with it.
Sophomore Kayla Hedgren explains that it’s shocking that doctors would make a woman go through such steps, but that it makes the mother face what she is about to do.
“When a woman gets an abortion, they are destroying a life based on their own immature decisions. I feel like before they make such a serious choice, they need to see the reality of what’s growing inside them,” Hedgren said. “This will be positive because mothers have to face the consequences and make them think twice about abortion. I believe it will really make them evaluate their choice.”
Governor McDonnell still stands by his bill which he argues will help provide more information and “can help the mother make a fully informed decision” about their abortion.
First of all, I can hardly imagine an unneeded transvaginal ultrasound should ever be a synonym to “help.” Did McDonnell come by a faulty thesaurus? I believe the word he was looking for is abuse.
Let me get this straight: the government is allowed to enforce a law that violates women just to try to question her moral stableness? I personally believe the most bizarre part of this bill is the fact that the procedure completely medically useless.
“It is particularly troubling that the law has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with politics,” Greenier said.
So, basically, what McDonnell means is that women can make their own choice in the end, but the government must step in by giving them a transvaginal ultrasound provided with a 24 hour wait of shame. The only thing that the invasive ultrasound will “inform” these women of is that their personal decision isn’t being accepted.
“A woman’s right to choose is more important than what someone believes she should do,” Witt said. “Human rights is the most important issue facing our society. People have to have a right to their own body because if they do not own themselves, who does?”
This law opens up an alarming direction of opportunities for politicians to abuse their power. People have every right to judge others and believe what they want to believe about political issues, but that should never give free reign to strip away another’s rights.
With something as sensitive and personal as abortion, how can politicians possibly say that know what is best for these women?
This issue reminded me of the wise words Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. who famously said that “the right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
Essentially, Holms means that your rights end when somebody else’s rights begin, something Gov. McDonnell ought to remember. He has no authority to metaphorically punch these women in the face.