Rape Me All Over Again

Regular readers will know I am not much in the habit of commenting on politics, especially those of another country, but this is just plain ugly:

Transvaginal ultrasound transducer

Oklahoma lawmakers overrode their governor’s veto Tuesday to enact tough abortion laws that force women to undergo invasive ultrasounds and allow doctors to withhold test results showing fetal defects.

Even women who are victims of rape or incest will be required to listen to a detailed description of the fetus and view the ultrasound image prior to terminating a pregnancy.

They will also likely be required to undergo vaginal rather than abdominal ultrasounds as doctors are required to use the method that “would display the embryo or fetus more clearly.”

Transvaginal ultrasound anatomy

Patients and ultrasound techs have told me transvaginal ultrasounds are horribly invasive procedures. In essence, a long probe like the one above is inserted into the vagina up to the cervix. At my hospital they aren’t done routinely, and are only performed if absolutely necessary. Now imagine a 15 year-old incest victim or a 23 year-old rape victim being compelled to undergo this procedure in order to obtain an abortion.

Hey, let’s re-enact the crime! Let’s victimize the victim! Because evidently, in Oklahoma anyway, this is considered good heath care.

I’m not a fan of abortion, to be clear. But I am a nurse, and it seems to me to compel women to be symbolically raped to obtain health care is particularly evil. And unless you’re willing to have this procedure performed on yourself, or your raped daughter, please spare me any cant about the rights of the fetus.

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  1. #1 by pastelmoon on Wednesday 28 April 2010 - 0936

    I am pro choice. The reason is because a woman’s body is her body and no one else’s. I personally wouldn’t consider abortion but I support women who do. This is more of a religious issue and laws shouldn’t be made according to beliefs, they should be based on fact.

  2. #2 by jparadisirn on Wednesday 28 April 2010 - 1044

    I’ve been following this too. Like a shift gone wrong and seems without end, somehow the clock hands of reason and civility are moving backwards. This law feels medieval. I don’t know about Oklahoma hospital polices, but some US hospitals have policies allowing caregivers to refuse to participate in procedures and treatments morally offensive to them, without jeopardizing their jobs. Maybe caregivers in Oklahoma will refuse to participate even if there are no policies to protect them.

  3. #3 by JennJilks on Wednesday 28 April 2010 - 1238

    That is awful, but not surprising. I have had an abortion, in the 70s. It was very difficult, emotionally, and even with my parents supporting me it was a hard thing. In Canada, do we not offer the day after pill to rape victims? How miserly, and old-fashioned in the US. Barbaric, I would say.

  4. #4 by SuziMama on Wednesday 28 April 2010 - 1430

    Jparadisirn – the really screwed up part is that the law actually lets doctors withhold information about baby’s birth defects if he or she wants to. So if a doc is pro-life to the extreme and fears a mom might abort a fetus that has defects, however slight (is my understanding), he or she is protected and doesn’t have to tell a mom that her baby has any problems at all.
    So yeah, that doctor gets to not have to participate in something he or she feels is morally offensive. However I’d say it’s morally offensive to not tell a mom her child has a defect and then let that woman birth a baby that will literally die within minutes of birth. So saddly that knife cuts both ways now in OK.

  5. #5 by Maha on Wednesday 28 April 2010 - 1457

    I read this yesterday and I was so enraged. This was disgusting. It still baffles me that the US is considered the pinnacle of development in so many parts of the world but is so medieval about laws regarding the autonomy of women. Again, I say disgusting.

  6. #6 by R. May on Wednesday 28 April 2010 - 1507

    Trust me – it baffles many of us who live in the US as well. If you want to understand you have to know that where laws like this are inacted are extremely religious states. As in – we can tell you what to do because this is what our God says. Really and truely. The midwest (and the south probably runs a close 2nd) is infamous for their many laws and attempts to restrict anything they deem wrong – not just women’s rights.

  7. #7 by DreamingTree on Wednesday 28 April 2010 - 1524

    Yep – some of our states are just ass backwards. They want to protect an unborn fetus so badly that they are willing to stomp all over the rights of the mother. Here’s a novel idea — how about supporting a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy rather than violating her?

    The wingnuts on both sides of the political fence are driving moderates like me absolutely crazy. Their point of view is the only thing that matters. Forget compromise. Ugh…

  8. #8 by Art Doctor on Thursday 29 April 2010 - 1256

    The worst part for me was reading this, “Even women who are victims of rape or incest will be required to listen to a detailed description of the fetus and view the ultrasound image prior to terminating a pregnancy.”

    I don’t think TVUs should be done at all until patients have been given a brief psychological assessment by their GPs, or a registered Psychologist/ Psychiatrist.

    To be completely transparent, I am a survivor of date rape. A couple months after it happened, I was going to work and as usual, carrying my bike down the stairs to the workshop (framing store). There were 15 steps. It was summer, and I had “very nice shoes on” and tripped at the top step because there was a heating/cooling floor vent. My bike propelled down, and as a reaction, I gripped tightly onto the handlebars and fell to the bottom cement floor. Because of the fall, the handlebars jammed into my lower abdomen, leaving a black imprint. The bruise was still there after a week so I had to go for a TVU—maybe there was a better option— but reading about the forced TVU in your post brings back bad memories for me because I probably would have said no to the test if I wasn’t already so upset from the rape.

  1. rape victim help
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