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Ear to the Ground

‘SNL’ Helps Take Down Invasive Ultrasound Requirement

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Posted on Feb 22, 2012
Meredith_Farmer (CC-BY)

After a multimedia outcry that included a bit on “Saturday Night Live,” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell withdrew support from a bill that would require women getting an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound beforehand. And yes, that’s every bit as unpleasant and invasive as it sounds.

Unfortunately, the issue that tanked the proposal—that requiring the procedure would amount to state sanctioned rape—will not prevent lawmakers from ordering abdominal (external) ultrasounds for women seeking abortions if the legislators decide it’s appropriate.

Some chalk up the surge in the bill’s unpopularity to the number of times the word “transvaginal” appeared in a number of pop culture outlets recently, saying that mentions on “The Daily Show,” “The View” and NBC’s Saturday night sketch show contributed to the swell of popular outrage. —ARK

Salon:

According to Critical Mention, a media monitoring service, there have been 186 mentions of a variant on the word “transvaginal” this year so far — with 132 of them in the last seven days. (There were 95 mentions in all of 2011, and we’re barely two months into 2012.) Amy Poehler returned to “Saturday Night Live’s” Weekend Update to use “transvaginal” as a punch line and snarl, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Last night, Jon Stewart turned “transvaginal ultrasound” into a song for a “Punanny State” segment. On “The View,” Joy Behar called the law “so frickin’ intrusive to a woman’s body” and compared it to the Taliban.

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By heterochromatic, February 26, 2012 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

Aaron——- it’s not disrespectful to you nor an affront to a peaceful and
constructive conversation to make the attempt to explain how a law that mandates
an invasive procedure, removing the element of consent from the person on whom
the procedure is performed, is an affront to freedom

Report this

By Aaron Ortiz, February 26, 2012 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

I apologize if I have offended any of you. I oppose the legislation, and have said
so already in my comments. I think it is not only offensive to women but also an
abuse of authority by the lawmaker who thought it up.

Now let me address heterochromatic and dancer’s anal sex comments. They
prove nothing, except, perhaps, that are don’t like to contemplate that anyone
with a different point of view could be worthy of their respect. I’m not talking
about me here. I’m talking about the religious right.

But if we are honest, everyone thinks they are right. No one likes to consider
they might be wrong, Everyone will protect their point of view against any
other. But, we are fools when we do so.

I have dared to hope that we could hold a peaceful and constructive
conversation. In that, I may be acting as a fool. I may also be foolish to think
that I could discuss a dissenting point of view in an internet forum
constructively. Experience says otherwise.

Report this

By heterochromatic, February 25, 2012 at 10:46 pm Link to this comment

Aaron, would it matter to you whether or not the law says that you’ve no right to
refuse for me to stick a turkey baster up your anus?


I’m unaware as to whether you sometimes consent to be anally basted, but would
taking that choice from you bother you at all?


or does critical thinking allow you to explore the lack of option as a good?

Report this

By Marian Griffith, February 25, 2012 at 3:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(part 2 because I could not get the whole reply in at once, despite it being below the character limit)


Finally, the whole point of the proposed law was nothing short of ‘punishing by rape’, something that horrifies even the islamic zealots in Pakistan (which is the only country in the world where it happens with government sanction, albeit illegally).
A woman seeking abortion is already forced to endure lectures, a waiting period and a secondary opinion. She is going to be more informed about the procedure and its consequences than the kind of people who seek to make abortion impossible. There is no reason at all for this additional invasion of her body, other than a form of punishment to ask for something she is legally entitled to but that the zealot lawmakers object to based on -their- religion, never mind the beliefs and convictions of the woman.

So, if as you say, you seek open discussion, then I will tell you that you go about it the wrong way. The subject is not a matter of ‘we have to opposing views and lets see if we can find some common ground’. We have one group that, by any means necessary, seeks to limit the rights of the other and impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the country. The fact that they see abortion as murder is irrelevant. The law says it is not and that ends, right there, their right to try to interfere with the legal rights of women to have an abortion if they so choose. All the restrictions and additional procedures they managed to vote into place(*) are for the most part illegal and entirely outside the scope of doctor-patient relations. A doctor is already through law and his oath required to give his patient the best possible counsel and inform her of potential complications, both physical and mental, of any treatment he proposes or she asks for. Abortion is the only treatment that lawmakers have stepped in an increased the burden placed on both doctor and patient. And I can assure you it was not out of concern with the patient that this was done.

Report this

By Marian Griffith, February 25, 2012 at 3:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Aaron Ortiz
A doctor would violate his or her oath to perform an invasive procedure on a client without medical need, and should be stripped of his right to practicion if he does so. And no, I strongly doubt that doctors who are performing an abortion would be willing to go along with this travesty of legislation. They know a lot better than the zealots what the women who ask for that procedure go through.

Further. The you present the opposing sides of this argument is a false dichotomy, not unlike newspapers that insist on spending exactly the same amount of words on climate denial as they do on describing the facts of climate change. Abortion is, within a specific time frame, a legal procedure and as such is not subject to additional limitations. If people insist on calling it murder that is their prerogative, but to prevent a woman to undergo the procedure they need to change the law that legalises it, not prevent her from access. My opinion regarding velcro shoes does not give me a right to demand you undergo demeaning and invasive procedures before you can buy a pair. Neither does their opinion give them the right to try to circumvent the law.

Finally, the whole point of the proposed law was nothing short of ‘punishing by rape’, something that horrifies even the islamic zealots in Pakistan (which is the only country in the world where it happens with government sanction, albeit illegally).
A woman seeking abortion is already forced to endure lectures, a waiting period and a secondary opinion. She is going to be more informed about the procedure and its consequences than the kind of people who seek to make abortion impossible. There is no reason at all for this additional invasion of her body, other than a form of punishment to ask for something she is legally entitled to but that the zealot lawmakers object to based on -their- religion, never mind the beliefs and convictions of the woman.

So, if as you say, you seek open discussion, then I will tell you that you go about it the wrong way. The subject is not a matter of ‘we have to opposing views and lets see if we can find some common ground’. We have one group that, by any means necessary, seeks to limit the rights of the other and impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the country. The fact that they see abortion as murder is irrelevant. The law says it is not and that ends, right there, their right to try to interfere with the legal rights of women to have an abortion if they so choose. All the restrictions and additional procedures they managed to vote into place(*) are for the most part illegal and entirely outside the scope of doctor-patient relations. A doctor is already through law and his oath required to give his patient the best possible counsel and inform her of potential complications, both physical and mental, of any treatment he proposes or she asks for. Abortion is the only treatment that lawmakers have stepped in an increased the burden placed on both doctor and patient. And I can assure you it was not out of concern with the patient that this was done.

Report this

By dancer, February 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This fellow, Aaron Ortiz, keeps talking about what he calls “critical thinking” as opposed to “emotonally charged” thinking… For the woman who is experiencing unneccessary, forced procedures designed to shame her into going aginst her own will and best judgement is extremely emotional and upsetting. It is a physical attack! That is why they want to do vaginal ultrasound.. it is demoralizing and it is usually painful too.
If Aaron wasforced to have a large probe shoved up his bottom, at his own expense, to “help” him decide to refuse something he felt his situation required I’d like to know exactly how calm and reasonable he would feel. Is that what it would take for a man to understand what violation really is?... how disempowering,demoralizing and psychologically damaging and demoralizing it is. This is why men should NOT be making decisions for women. They have no comprehension or uderstanding of the reality and they would go nuts if the equivalent were forced on them by law in what claims to be a free and secular society. They can’t even understand that when something is shoved into your private places against yourwishes it is rape - rape is RAPE!

Report this

By Aaron Ortiz, February 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

Sory, I mispelled your name, Marian.

Report this

By Aaron Ortiz, February 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

Marion:

Isn’t the complete stranger you mention the doctor who is going about to perform the abortion?

I am not in favor of the legislation. I’d just like to read about it and discuss it in a non-partisan way.

Language is the major barrier to this topic. Both sides use extremely unhelpful language.

Murder is a very emotionally charged word used by the pro-life activists. Unfortunately that is what they believe abortion is. But the word makes it very hard for them to reach a compromise.

But the other side uses the word choice, which completely negates the possibility of the fetus being a human being (which should be debatable).

Rape is also part of the conversation. Pro choice: “I should have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy that began because of rape.” Pro life: “A women shouldn’t have the right to murder a baby for any reason.” See how language is not helping?

There is no hope of ever converting the other side, because each side justifies their view from their moral values. One side values a religious moral code, the other atheistic freedom. BOTH ARE GOOD.

The only hope is to find peace in understanding each other’s point of view, and finding a compromise that is at least equally distasteful to both sides. There is no win-win scenario here, in my view.

To get to such a compromise, everyone needs to calm down and use neutral language.

That is why I don’t see the need for the word rape. Such language doesn’t help us reach a peaceful conclusion, because it provokes anger.

A government mandated prostate exam is not rape either.

Report this

By Marian Griffith, February 23, 2012 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Aaron Ortiz
—-Don’t women routinely pay to get ultrasounds during pregnancy? How can an ultrasound be “rape”?—-

To put it in the crudest terms possible, since that is how the victims of this procedure would experience it… Transvaginal ultrasound means that a woman is required to drop her knickers, spread her legs for a complete stranger and have a cold plastic object roughly the shape and size of a largish penis shoved in her vagina.
And yes, the procedure is really that unpleasant and demeaning if you do not agree to it for medical reasons.

It would not be so bad if there were a medical reason for insisting on it, but there is none. The sole purpose for this law was to make a decision that is already extremely hard and emotionally scarring for women so traumatic that most would rather forego a procedure that they are by law entitled to. It is religious fanatics who try to impose their beliefs on the rest of the nation, and especially on women. They don’t care for the lives of the women who will be destroyed by their zealotry, they don’t care for the women whose lives are in acute risk if they don’t get a perfectly legal abortion, they don’t care for the many children who will be born with severe or debilitating handicaps and they most assuredly are not going to adopt those children or pay for their extremely high medical expenses during their short lives.

Also, I would personally appreciate it if you stop putting quotation marks around the word rape. Quotation marks in the way you use them denote irony, and there is nothing ironic about the word rape, about being the (potential) victim of rape nor about the way the word is being coopted to dilute the horrifying reality of what it stands for.

Report this

By Marian Griffith, February 23, 2012 at 11:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@BBFmail
—-Do you think the abortion procedure is pleasant???—-

No it isn’t, and you know it. You also know that the sole reason to insist on women undergoing that procedure is to make what is already a terrible decision being forced on a woman so unpleasant that she rather give up.
It is a way for the religious fanatics to prevent women from receiving a procedure that is legal except in their ‘we are above the low because our god says so’ delusions.

How many women do you think wake up in the morning and say to themselves ‘today I think I am having myself an abortion’? Precisely, not a single woman goes to a clinic without the understanding that the procedure is difficult and emotionally scarring, and without going through a great deal of guilt and self doubt. No few of them are faced with the choice between aborting a severely handicapped fetus (who those sanctimonious anti-abortion activists are not going to adopt nor are willing to pay medical support for). Many of them are faced with a life threatening complication. And a smallish percentage is raped and gets, complementary of the zealots, a replay of what is probably the worst and most terrifying experience of their life.

So ... could you please stop being disingeneous?

Report this

By Aaron Ortiz, February 23, 2012 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

Freedom and holiness are the diametrically opposed values that are held by either side…just pointing that out.

I’m not advocating either.

Report this
Octopodian's avatar

By Octopodian, February 23, 2012 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

“Freedom or “holiness?”  Nonsense, precisely the sort
of comment made by a self-righteous male where women’s
bodies are concerned.  How about a group of grey-haired
women passing a law requiring men to get a prostrate
exam in order to buy a gun?

Report this

By Aaron Ortiz, February 23, 2012 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

I’m trying to discuss this without emotion and without emotionally charged language. That sadly is very rare nowadays.

What I’m trying to expose is that the journalist who used the word “rape” to describe a medical procedure is trying to provoke readers’ emotions instead of reason.

I’d also like to point out that the journalist is using emotion to mean something like: “we are being attacked, and the enemy is trying to rape our women.”

I’d like to know how different the medical procedure for this ultrasound is from the normal ultrasounds that are given during pregnancy.

Of course I am not saying anyone should be forced to do anything.

Report this

By Aubergine, February 23, 2012 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is the first time I’ve ever heard it implied that requiring a woman to
have something stuck into her vagina against her will is “holy.”
I hope it is the last.

Report this

By BBFmail, February 23, 2012 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

“Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell withdrew support from a bill that would require women getting an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound beforehand. And yes, that’s every bit as unpleasant and invasive as it sounds.”

So, this is so, so very invasive????  What do you think happens when an abortion is preformed?  Do you think the abortion procedure is pleasant???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZFwsoa_Zr4&feature=related

Report this

By Moebius, February 23, 2012 at 2:51 am Link to this comment

Of course, the ultrasounds that women get during pregnancy don’t involve jamming a long hard plastic object up into their vaginas. There’s a legal term for penetrating women’s bodies against their wishes… it’s “rape”:and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say there aren’t any *sane* people who would call rape something that is “good”

Report this

By Aaron Ortiz, February 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment

Reading this makes me sad for the United States. Critical thinking is much scarcer
than those who label themselves critical thinkers believe. People consume the
media that agree with them and do not explore other points of view.

Don’t women routinely pay to get ultrasounds during pregnancy? How can an
ultrasound be “rape”?

Of course the issue here is not the ultrasound, but the ideas of what is good:
freedom or holiness?

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